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" II y a dans la femme une gaiete 16gre qui dissipe la tristesse 





D( r- 



THERE are few more interesting figures in the social life 
of the nineteenth century than that of Madame Rdcamier. 
Distinguished alike for her beauty, her virtue, her charm 
of manner, and her goodness of heart, she reigned for 
upwards of fifty years the almost undisputed queen of 
Parisian society. " One cannot expect to find in future 
times," says her friend, the Duchesse d'Abrantes " a 
woman like her a woman whose friendship has been 
courted by the most remarkable persons of the age ; a 
woman whose beauty has brought to her feet all the men 
who have once set eyes upon her ; whose love has been 
the object of universal desire, yet whose virtue has 
remained pure ; a woman whose unsullied reputation 
never suffered from the attacks of jealousy or envy ; a 
woman who lost none of the affections which had been 
pledged to her, because in her days of gaiety and 
splendour she had the merit of being always ready to 
sacrifice her own enjoyments to afford consolation which 
no one could do more sweetly and effectually to any 
friend in distress. To the world Madame Rcamier is 
a celebrated woman ; to those who had the happiness 

V b 


to know and to appreciate her she was a peculiar and 
gifted being, formed by Nature as a perfect model in 
one of her most beneficent moods." 

One would naturally have supposed that so striking and 
attractive a personality would have claimed no inconsider- 
able amount of attention from English and American 
writers ; but such is far from being the case. Although 
frequent mention is made of her by George Ticknor, 
Mary Berry, Maria Edgeworth, and other contemporary 
writers, and although she has always been a favourite with 
contributors to periodical literature, yet with the exception 
of a short study by Madame Mohl, an intimate friend of 
her later years (London : 1862), and an abridged transla- 
tion by Miss Luyster of Madame Lenormant's Souvenirs 
et Correspondance tire's des papiers de Madame Recamier 
(Boston : 1 867), there is no work in our language of 
which she is the subject. 

Nor can either of these works be considered altogether 
satisfactory. Madame Mohl's little book does not pretend 
to be anything more than an essay in fact it originally 
appeared in the National Review ; while Miss Luyster's 
translation, excellent as it is, unavoidably reproduces many 
of the defects of the original. 

Madame Lenormant's book, indeed, although it contains 
a mass of interesting information, and must always remain 
the chief authority for any " Life " of her celebrated aunt, 
is not only involved and diffuse in style and faulty in con- 
struction, but is open to the charge so frequently brought 
against biographies written by near relatives that of 



excessive partiality ; and, in the present instance, this 
partiality extends not only to Madame Recamier herself, 
but to more than one of her intimate friends. 

Again, at the time Madame Lenormant wrote it was 
found impossible to include the letters written by Benjamin 
Constant, the famous publicist and statesman, to Madame 
Recamier by no means the least interesting portion of 
the latter's correspondence owing to the opposition of 
the Constant and Recamier families, who had gone so far 
as to obtain an injunction restraining their publication. 

These remarkable letters, of which, through the courtesy 
of Baron d'Estournelles, I am enabled to give a selection 
in the present volume, have since appeared, though not 
without a further contest in the Law Courts, together 
with Benjamin Constant's Journal Intime ; the Souvenirs 
of the Due de Broglie ; the ^Memoires of Alexis de 
Tocqueville ; Madame Lenormant's ^Madame Beamier, 
les Amis de sa Jeunesse, and Coppet et Weimar ; the 
Memoires of Madame de Remusat, and many other 
works which contain much additional information about 
Madame R6camier and her friends. And I am, there- 
fore, inclined to think that the time has now come when 
it is possible to offer to English readers something 
approaching an adequate account of one of the most 
remarkable among the many remarkable women of whom 
France is justly proud. 

It may possibly occasion some surprise that this volume 
differs from most works of its kind, inasmuch as, although 
it comprises a number of letters addressed to Madame 



R6camier by her various distinguished friends, there are 
very few written by herself. The explanation of this is 
that, with the exception of those to her niece, Madame 
Lenormant, and other members of her family, few of 
which are of much general interest, scarcely any of 
Madame Rcamier's letters have been preserved. What 
became of the very large number which must have been 
written at different periods to Mathieu de Montmorency, 
Prince Augustus of Prussia, Ballanche, Benjamin Constant, 
and Chateaubriand is uncertain. But it is believed that 
they were in each case returned after the death of the 
recipient, and formed part of two bulky manuscript 
volumes, containing Madame R6camier's own reminis- 
cences, which she had, until her sight began to fail, 
intended to publish, but which were destroyed by her 
directions shortly before her death in 1849. 

The absence of these letters is the more to be regretted, 
as from the few which are in existence, and the manner in 
which literary friends, like Madame de Stae'l, Ballanche, 
and Chateaubriand, speak of those which they were 
accustomed to receive from her, it would appear that she 
must have been a singularly charming correspondent, even 
in an age when letter- writing was still accounted one of 
the fine arts. 

" To compile a real account of Madame Rcamier," 
says the writer of the brief article devoted to her in the 
Encyclopedia Britannic a > " would necessitate the ransack 
of all the memoirs, correspondence, and anecdotage con- 
cerning French political and literary life for the first halt 



of the nineteenth century." This, it will readily be 
admitted, is a formidable task and one requiring an 
amount of leisure which seldom falls to an author's lot. 
Nevertheless, this volume is the result of a more careful 
sifting of available materials than will perhaps appear 
upon the surface. 

LONDON, April 1901. 




. Page i 


















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Birth and parentage The convent of La Deserte Juliette 
joins her parents in Paris A youthful escapade Her beauty 
as a child A visit to Versailles Her taste for music A 
marriage of convenience Jacques Recamier and the guillo- 
tine A singular story 

" HER angelic face can bear no other name ; one look 
suffices to bind your heart to her for ever." 

Such was the dictum pronounced by no less a person 
than Lamartine on Madame Recamier, without a doubt 
the most remarkable figure in French society during the 
first half of the nineteenth century, the idol of Prince 
Augustus of Prussia, of Mathieu de Montmorency, of 
Simon Ballanche, and of Ren6 de Chateaubriand; the 
confidante of Moreau, Bernadotte, and Murat ; the bosom 
friend of Madame de Stael ; about whose charms Lucien 
Bonaparte and Benjamin Constant raved, and to whom 
Wellington made love in his bad French. Before the throne 
of this uncrowned queen, kings and princes, statesmen and 
orators, authors and artists, warriors and diplomatists 
bowed the knee, while she received their homage with an 
easy grace and gentle dignity which commanded at once 
their admiration and their respect. 

Madame Rcamier's long career falls naturally into 
three periods, coinciding with three well-defined epochs in 
French history. During the first and second of these 


that is to say, from her appearance in society after the 
Reign of Terror to the restoration of the Bourbons in 
1814, and again from the latter date to the revolution of 
1830 her life is so closely connected with the politics of 
her country that it is hardly possible to speak of her 
without dwelling to some extent on the great events 
which were passing around her. Like a fine silver thread, 
as one of her contemporaries aptly observes, her career 
runs through the web of history, and cannot be drawn 
out without dragging some shreds of the coarser tissue 
along with it. During the third period, which may be 
said to cover the last eighteen years of her life, and in 
which her most intimate friends had retired from the 
political arena, we see her the centre of a literary coterie, 
which recalls the salons of the reign of Louis XIV., the 
friend and confidante of poets and philosophers, as she 
had formerly been of diplomatists and politicians, and 
extending her hospitality to distinguished foreigners from 
all parts of Europe. 

Although during these later years, her beauty had 
waned, while her means were comparatively slender, the 
extraordinary fascination she exercised over all with whom 
sl~e was brought into contact remained as potent as ever, 
and an invitation to her receptions was as much prized as 
when half the celebrated men in France were at her feet, 
and every luxury which money could purchase was at her 

Jeanne Franchise Julie Adelaide Bernard to give her 
her full name, though she was known throughout life by 
her first nom de caresse of Juliette was born at Lyons 
on December 4, 1777. Her father, Jean Bernard, was a 
notary of that city, but, beyond the fact that he was 
extremely good-looking, he does not appear to have been 


in any way distinguished. Her mother (whose maiden 
name was Manton), from whom Juliette inherited that 
bewitching loveliness and charm of manner which was to 
secure for her a European reputation, was a singularly 
beautiful and attractive woman, with an aptitude for 
business most unusual in one of the gentler sex, which 
enabled her to amass by successful speculation a snug little 
fortune, and, what according to the younger Disraeli is 
far harder of accomplishment, to keep it. 

In 1784 Jean Bernard was, through the influence of 
Calonne, a great admirer of the notary's handsome wife, 
appointed a collector of customs in Paris, where he and 
his wife henceforth resided, while their little daughter was 
placed in the convent of La Deserte at Lyons, in which 
community one of Madame Bernard's sisters was a nun. 
Juliette always retained the most affectionate and grateful 
remembrance of the days spent at the convent, as one of 
the few fragments of her journal which have been pre- 
served testifies : 

" The night before my aunt was to fetch me," she 
writes, " I was taken to the Lady Abbess's chamber to 
receive her blessing. The next day, bathed in tears, I 
passed over the threshold of that door which I could 
scarcely remember opening to admit me. I found myself 
in a carriage by the side of my aunt, and we started for 
Paris. I left with regret that tranquil and innocent 
period of my life to enter upon one of turmoil. The 
memory of it comes back to me like a vague, sweet dream 
with its clouds of incense, its innumerable ceremonies, its 
processions in the gardens, its chants, and its flowers. 

" If I have spoken of these early years, notwithstanding 
my intention to be brief in all matters relating to myself, 
it is on account of the immense influence which they have 



exercised on my whole life. It is without doubt to those 
vivid impressions of faith received in childhood that I am 
indebted for the fact that I have retained my religious 
convictions in the midst of all the conflicting opinions 
which I have met with. I have listened to them, under- 
stood them, admitted them, as far as they were admissible, 
but I have never allowed doubt to enter my heart." l 

Juliette was about ten years of age when she joined her 
parents in Paris, where they were living in good style, having 
a box at the Theatre Fran^ais, and giving supper parties 
twice a week. The Voltairean philosopher, Simonard, 
a great friend of the family, and his son, a little boy 
about Juliette's own age, shared their house ; and one day 
soon after her arrival, the latter, who seems to have been 
somewhat of a scapegrace, persuaded her to join him in a 
raid on a neighbour's grapes. This was by no means the 
first time that Master Simonard had levied toll on this 
particular garden, and on the present occasion, as ill-luck 
would have it, the irate owner was on the watch, with the 
result that the marauders were caught red-handed. Young 
Simonard managed to effect his escape, but his companion 
was less fortunate, and was taken prisoner. Her captor, 
however, who was a very gallant old gentleman, was not 
proof against the tears of so lovely a child ; and, instead 
of punishing her, as she undoubtedly deserved, begged her 
to cry no more, promised to say nothing about her escapade 
to her parents, and sent her home with her pinafore full 
of fruit. 

Indeed, even at this early age, Juliette seems to have 

been remarkable for her beauty and grace, and became the 

pet of La Harpe and other literary men who frequented 

the Bernards' house ; and to this fact may be attributed 

1 Souvenirs, i. 2. 



her taste for literary society, to which she is in no small 
degree indebted for her lasting celebrity. Her mother, 
who appears to have attached an extraordinary importance 
to the power of personal attraction, compelled the poor 
child to spend many weary hours at her toilet table, and 
allowed no opportunity to slip of exhibiting her little 
daughter's budding charms to the admiring eyes of the 

At that time the unfortunate Louis XVI. was already 
the slave of his people, and was ready to make almost any 
sacrifice to please his capricious subjects and bolster up his 
tottering throne. The public were even admitted to the 
dining-room at Versailles, to stare at the royal family 
taking their meals with all the ceremonial of the ancient 
monarchy. On one occasion Madame Bernard and 
Juliette entered among the crowd, and Marie Antoinette 
was so struck with the child's beauty, that after dinner 
she sent one of her ladies to the proud mother with a 
request that she would allow her daughter to go to the 
queen's apartments, where Juliette and the little Madame 
Royale, who happened to be both about the same age, 
were measured to see which was the tallest. The dignity 
of the little princess is said to have been somewhat ruffled 
at being compared with a child who had, as she expressed 
it, " been taken from the rabble." 

Although Madame Bernard paid so much attention to 
her child's personal appearance, she was far from neglecting 
her education, and indeed supervised her studies with the 
greatest care. Juliette had a very decided taste for music, 
and received instruction from the first masters of the day. 
She performed on both the harp and the piano, and took 
singing lessons from Boieldieu. Her voice, we learn, 
though lacking in power, was good in tone and expression 


She soon gave up singing and the harp, but remained all her 
life devoted to the piano. Her memory was excellent, and 
she was fond of playing without notes at twilight. Thus 
when her sight began to fail, as it did about ten years 
before her death, she was still able to enjoy music, and by 
its aid console herself for the loss of other pleasures. 

She was also a most accomplished and graceful dancer, 
and it must have been worth going a long way to see her 
perform her shawl dance, which served her friend Madame 
de Stael as a model for the dance in Corinne. 

" One day during the sad winter of 1812-13, which she 
passed as an exile at Lyons," says Madame Lenormant, her 
niece and adopted daughter, " she gave me an idea of this 
dance in order to drive away her ennui, and also, no doubt, 
to recall the memory of other days. With a long scarf in her 
hand, she went through all the different attitudes wherein 
the light fabric becomes in turn a girdle, a veil, and a 
drapery. Nothing could be more graceful, more becoming, 
or more picturesque than this succession of harmonious 
poses, worthy to be perpetuated by the pencil of an artist." 1 

At the age of fifteen, Juliette received an offer of 
marriage. Her suitor was a wealthy Paris banker named 
Jacques Recamier, who, like the Bernards themselves, came 
originally from Lyons, where his father had formerly 
carried on a highly lucrative business in the hat trade. 
Jacques Rcamier was a handsome, pleasure-loving man of 
forty-three, generous to a fault, and, at the same time, 
oddly enough, quite incapable of any deep feeling. One 
day, we are told, he would lend a friend money to almost 
any amount ; the next, if the same friend happened to die, 
he would coolly murmur, " Another drawer shut ! " and 
straightway forget all about him. 

1 Souvenirs, i. 18. 


Juliette seems to have received her middle-aged suitor's 
addresses without reluctance. She had known him for 
several years ; he had always been exceedingly kind to 
her when a child, and she was indebted to him for many 
of her most costly toys and most gorgeously attired dolls. 
She felt quite sure in her own mind that he would prove 
equally indulgent as a husband ; and so, after a little 
hesitation, she consented to become his wife. 

The banker, on his part, seems to have regarded the 
lovely young girl mainly in the light of a daughter, whose 
beauty refreshed his eyes, while the admiration it excited 
among his friends and neighbours flattered his vanity. 
(" // 'voulut par son mariage eblouir et eclipser le monde 
dans lequel il vivait" says Rondelet. 1 ) Moreover the tie 
which bound them to each other was never anything but 
a nominal one. 

The wedding took place in the month of April 1793 ; 
scarcely a time, one would have supposed, for marrying'or 
giving in marriage. The Reign of Terror was at its 
height ; all society was broken up and scattered to the 
four winds of heaven, and all family ties annihilated. 
People saw their relatives and friends being dragged to 
the block, themselves living in hourly dread of a similar 
fate, and were yet too paralysed by fear to resist the 
tyranny of the executioners. 

Jacques Recamier used to go almost every day to the 
Place-de la-Concorde to watch the guillotine being fed 
with human prey beneath a colossal statue of Liberty, 
according to his own account, in order to accustom him- 
self to the fate which he had every reason to expect would 
soon be his own, but more probably because such gruesome 
scenes had a peculiar fascination for him, as they had had 
1 Rondelet's Madame Recamicr, p. 10. 


for George Selwyn. He was present at the execution of 
the King ; he saw the fair head of Marie Antoinette fall 
into the fatal basket, and nearly all the men with whom 
he had been intimate in business or society guillotined one 
after the other ; but he himself, his wife, and her family 
were spared, chiefly, it is believed, through the influence 
of Barere, one of the leaders of the Terrorists, who was a 
great friend of the Bernards. Jean Bernard, it may be 
remarked, was probably the only receveur des finances of 
Louis XVI. who escaped the guillotine. 

The fact of Juliette's marriage taking place at such a 
time, and the peculiar relations which were known to 
exist between her and her husband, gave rise to a very 
singular story, which, extravagant as it may seem, found 
credence among a great number of Madame Recamier's 

It was asserted that Juliette was in reality Jacques 
R6camier's own child, and that his object in marrying her 
was to ensure her possession of his fortune in the not 
unlikely event of the guillotine claiming him as one of its 

Into the merits of this story we do not propose to 
enter, and it will, therefore, be sufficient to observe that 
the reputation which the fascinating Madame Bernard 
bore both Calonne and Barere are said to have been her 
lovers was not of a kind to entirely preclude such a 
possibility ; and that the fact that no mention is made of 
the civil marriage, performed in 1793, being supple- 
mented by a religious ceremony when the churches were 
re-opened a practice which was general among all respect- 
able people is in itself somewhat significant, the more so 
as Madame Rcamier was throughout her life a strict 
observer of the ritual of her Church. 



Paris after the Reign of Terror Madame Recamier's extra- 
ordinary beauty Sensation it arouses The quete at St. 
Roch Fe"te at the Luxembourg in honour of Bonaparte 
Dinner given by Barras Madame Recamier meets Madame 
de S'ae'l Purchase of Necker's house in the Rue du Mont 
Blanc Mary Berry's description of it Lucien Bonaparte's 
fe- te "The First Consul thinks you charming" Lucien 
Bonaparte His great abilities His passion for Madame 
Recamier Letters of Romeo to Juliette Juliette rejects 

OWING to the disturbed condition of Paris, the first four 
years of Juliette's married life were necessarily passed in 
comparative seclusion, for during that terrible time retire- 
ment and insignificance afforded the only sure means of 
safety, and most people preferred to forego social functions 
and remain at home rather than run the risk of attracting 
the notice of the bloodthirsty Comits de Salut Tublic. 

But at length the Terror came to an end, and the work 
of order and reconstruction began. The exiles, or at least 
such of them as had not committed themselves beyond 
hope of reprieve, and were prepared to conform, outwardly 
at all events, to the new order of things, returned ; the 
commercial magnates emerged from their retirement ; the 
prison doors were opened ; and the Parisians, incorrigible 
in their frivolity, threw themselves with a zest sharpened 
by the privations of terror, war, and famine, into a perfect 



vortex of pleasure, crowded once more to the theatre, the 
promenade, and the ball-room, and danced, and gambled, 
and flirted as if none of them had lost a friend or a relative 
for years. 

It was now that Juliette Recamier began to cause that 
sensation which was to give her, in after years, such an 
extraordinary influence over French society. During this 
period of retirement her beauty had ripened, and she had 
passed from childhood into all the splendour of woman- 
hood. The following description, from the pen of 
Madame Lenormant, of her appearance about this time 
does not seem, even after making all due allowance for the 
fact that the writer was both her niece and most enthusi- 
astic admirer, to be in any way an exaggerated one : 

" A figure supple and graceful ; throat and shoulders of 
exquisite form and proportions ; beautiful arms though 
somewhat slender ; a little rosy mouth ; pearly teeth ; 
black hair that curled naturally ; a delicate and regular 
nose, but bien-fran$ai s ; an incomparable brilliancy of 
complexion ; a frank, arch face, rendered irresistibly lovely 
from its expression of goodness ; a well poised head ; a 
carriage slightly indicative of both indolence and pride, so 
that to her might be applied St. Simon's compliment to 
the Duchess of Burgundy : 

" Her step was like that of a goddess on clouds." 

Such was Madame Recamier at eighteen. 1 ' 

The success of a woman did not then depend on the 
verdict of an exclusive society. The Revolution had 
changed all that. Salon life no longer existed. The 
finest houses in the Faubourg St. Germain might have 
been hired for almost nothing ; the whole Hotel de Luynes 
was rented at only six hundred francs a year, for people's 


purses were as empty as the national exchequer. A few 
bankers and contractors, whom the war had enriched, 
were, indeed, the only persons who had houses lit for the 
reception of company ; and the only places where the 
beauty and fashion of the new society could show itself 
were in the Tuileries grounds during the day, and, at night, 
at the theatres and the subscription balls, held at illumi- 
nated gardens like Tivoli and Beaujon, where any one 
might go for three francs, and take a lady for one franc 
more. At such gatherings as these Madame Recamier's 
presence was looked upon as an event of no small impor- 
tance, and, wherever she went, her beauty called forth 
murmurs of curiosity and admiration. 

On one occasion, after public worship had been re- 
established, she was asked to hold the plate at St. Roch 
for some charitable quete. She consented, and knelt, as 
was usual, in the middle of the church. When the time 
came for the collection to be made, the church was filled 
to overflowing ; the people stood on the chairs, the 
benches, and even the altars of the side-chapels, and 
hustled one another unmercifully to catch a glimpse or 
the lovely queteuse : indeed, the two gentlemen, who had, 
according to custom, been deputed to protect her, had all 
their work cut out to prevent her being crushed to death 
by her too enthusiastic admirers. The sum collected 
amounted to something like twenty thousand francs, an 
immense sum having regard to the state of people's 
fortunes at this period. 

On December 10, 1797, the Directory gave a fe'te in 
honour of Bonaparte, who had just returned from his 
victorious Italian campaign. It was held in the great 
court of the Luxembourg, where a statue of Liberty had 
been erected, at the foot of which sat the five Directors, 



habited in Roman costume, with short togas and bare legs, 
a garb which they must have found somewhat trying on a 
cold winter's day. The ministers, ambassadors, and public 
functionaries occupied benches placed in the form of an 
amphitheatre, and behind them were the reserved seats for 
the invited guests, amongst whom were Madame Recamier 
and her mother. All the front windows of the building, 
the court, the garden, and the adjacent streets were 
thronged with people. 

Talleyrand, who was Minister for Foreign Affairs, read 
to the future Emperor an address of congratulation, and 
Bonaparte replied in a characteristic speech, brief and 
forcible, which was, of course, loudly acclaimed. Madame 
Recamier, who could not from where she sat distinguish 
the features of the hero of the occasion, took advantage 
of the moment when Barras was replying to the general 
to rise from her seat in order to obtain a better view 
of him. The crowd, who had hitherto had no eyes for 
any one but Bonaparte, immediately turned to admire the 
beauty of the day, and a low murmur of admiration ran 
round the court. This sound did not escape Bonaparte, 
who glanced about him to see who it was who could 
possibly be diverting attention from himself ; and when 
he perceived a young woman, dressed in white, standing 
on a bench, he bent upon her one of his terrible frowns, 
and the careless young beauty sat down crimson with 
confusion. Thus, at the very outset of her career, 
Madame Recamier had the satisfaction of rivalling the 
conqueror of Europe himself in popular admiration. 

In the summer of 1796, Jacques Recamier rented a 
furnished chateau at Clichy, where he established his young 
wife and her mother. He himself remained in Paris, but 
drove out every day to Clichy to dinner. The chateau 



was large and beautifully situated in a wooded park which 
sloped down to the banks of the Seine, and here the 
Recamiers kept open house, and every Sunday gave a large 
dinner party to their more intimate friends. 

Madame Rcamier mingled but little in the very mixed 
society of the Directory. She was, however, present, in 
the spring of 1799, at a reception at the Luxembourg 
given by Barras, who since the affair of the i8th Fructidor 
had been practically dictator of France, at which her host 
paid her marked attention, and the poet Despaze, who 
was among the guests, improvised a quatrain in her 

Madame Recamier took advantage of the favourable 
impression she had created to intercede with the Director 
on behalf of a poor priest, whose release she desired to 
obtain ; and Barras, who never could refuse anything 
to a pretty woman despite the poor opinion which he 
professed to entertain for the sex, granted her request. 
Poverty and misfortune always had for Madame Recamier 
the same attractions which wealth and prosperity have for 
the ordinary run of mortals, and this was only one of 
many instances in which she used the influence which her 
beauty and popularity gave her to promote the happiness 
of her less favoured fellow-creatures. 

As Jacques Rcamier's fortune and the fame of his 
wife's beauty increased, he found his town house in the 
Rue du Mail too small for his requirements, and hearing 
that Necker, with whom he had long had business relations, 
was desirous of selling his hotel in the Rue du Mont 
Blanc (now the Chaussee d'Antin), he entered into nego- 
tiations for its purchase. It was this transaction which 
was the means of bringing Madame Recamier and Necker's 
famous daughter, Madame de Stael, together, and was 


the beginning of a friendship which lasted until the death 
of the brilliant authoress of Corinne and De L?Allemagnc y 
who seems to have been completely fascinated by the fresh 
young beauty whose attractions were so different to her 
own. Madame Recamier has left us an interesting account 
of this first meeting, which took place at the Recamiers' 
chateau at Clichy. 

" One day, and that marks an epoch in my life," she 
says, " M. Recamier arrived at Clichy with a lady whom 
he did not introduce by name, and whom he left alone 
with me in the salon, while he went to join some people 
who were in the park. This lady came about the sale of 
a house. Her costume was peculiar ; she wore a morning 
gown and a little dress hat trimmed with flowers. I took 
her for a foreigner. I was struck with the beauty of her 
eyes and her expression. I was unable to analyse my 
feelings, but I am sure that I was thinking more of finding 
out, or rather guessing, who she was than of addressing to 
her the usual commonplaces, when she said to me, with 
an air at once charming and impressive, that ' she was 
truly delighted to make my acquaintance ; that her father 
M. Necker' at these words I recognised Madame de 
Stael. I did not hear the rest of her sentence. I blushed 
and was extremely embarrassed. I had just been reading 
her Lettres sur Rousseau y in the perusal of which I was 
intensely interested. My looks were more expressive 
than my words ; she both awed and attracted me. I was 
conscious at once of her genuineness and her superiority. 
She, on her side, fixed her splendid eyes upon me, but 
with a friendly scrutiny, and paid me some compliments 
on my appearance that would have been too exaggerated 
and direct had they not seemed to escape her unconsciously, 
thus giving to her praises an irresistible fascination. My 



embarrassment did me no harm ; she understood it, and 
expressed the hope of seeing a great deal of me on her 
return to Paris, for she was on the point of starting for 
Coppet. This interview was only a passing one, but it 
left a deep impression upon me. I thought only of 
Madame de Stael, so much did I feel the influence of that 
strong and earnest personality." l 

The arrangements for the purchase of the hotel in the 
Rue du Mont Blanc having been completed, Jacques 
Recamier put it into the hands of Berthaut, the architect, 
with directions to have it enlarged and furnished in the 
Greek style, then so fashionable. Berthaut, who was 
allowed carte blanche in the matter of expense, acquitted 
himself with admirable taste, and, as since the Revolution 
luxury had almost disappeared, the house became one of 
the sights of Paris. From all accounts, however, it would 
seem to have been simplicity itself compared with the 
prodigal magnificence of later years. Of this house Mary 
Berry, who was in Paris during the Peace of Amiens, gives 
the following description : 

" Went to the house of Madame Recamier. We were 
resolved not to leave Paris without seeing what is called 
the most elegant house in it, fitted up in the new style. 
There are no large rooms nor a great many of them ; but 
it is certainly fitted up with all the recherchJ and expense 
possible in what is called le gout antique. But the 
candelabra, pendules, &c., though exquisitely finished, 
are in that sort of minute frittered style which I think so 
much less noble than that of fifteen or twenty years ago. 
All the chairs are mahogany, enriched with ormolu, and 
covered either with cloth or silk ; those in the salon 
trimmed with flat gold lace in good taste. Her bed is 
1 Stuvenirs, i. 24. 


reckoned the most beautiful in Paris : it, too, is of 
mahogany, enriched with ormolu and bronze, and raised 
upon two steps of the same wood. Over the whole bed 
was thrown a coverlid or veil of fine plain muslin, with 
rows of narrow gold lace at each end, and the muslin 
embroidered as a border. The curtains were muslin, 
trimmed like the coverlid, suspended from a sort of carved 
couronne des roses, and tucked up in drapery upon the wall 
against which the bed stood. At the foot of the bed stood 
a fine Grecian lamp of ormolu, with a little figure of the 
same metal bending over it, and at the head of the bed 
another stand upon which was placed a large ornamental 
flower-pot, containing a large artificial rose-tree, the 
branches of which must nod very near her nose, in bed. 
Out of this bedroom is a beautiful little salle-de-bain. 
The walls are inlaid with satin-wood, and mahogany, and 
slight arabesque patterns in black upon satin-wood. The 
bath presents itself as a sofa in a recess, covered with 
a cushion of scarlet cloth, embroidered and laced with 
black. Beyond this again is a very little boudoir, lined 
with quilted pea-green lustring, drawn together in a bunch 
in the middle of the ceiling." * 

The winter which followed the coup d'etat of the i8th 
Brumaire, in which the last remnants of the Republican 
institutions were swept away, and the thin end of the 
wedge of despotism firmly inserted MI the Constitution, was 
a very brilliant one in Paris. Balls, ftes, receptions, 
amusements of all kinds increased in number in proportion 
to the growing indifference of the people to liberty and 
all the great objects for which so much of the best blood 
in France had been shed. The Bonapartists, knowing full 
well that when the public mind is wholly given up to 

1 Miss Berry's ' Journal and Correspondence," i. 191. 


pleasure it is but little disposed to concern itself with the 
working of political institutions, did all in their power to 
encourage the prevailing love of gaiety, and themselves 
entertained in a style to which the Parisians had long been 
strangers. It was in pursuance of this policy that Lucien 
Bonaparte, who had lately been appointed Minister of the 
Interior, gave a grand fte in honour of the First Consul, to 
which Jacques Rcamier and his young wife were invited. 
It was here that Madame Recamier met, for the first and 
only time in her life, the man who was to exercise so 
sinister an influence on her own fortunes and those of her 

On this occasion Madame Recamier wore a white satin 
gown, with a necklace and bracelets of pearls. She always 
had, it appears, a very decided preference for white, and 
wore it at all seasons, varying only its material, shape, and 
trimmings. In like manner, she preferred pearls, of which 
she possessed some splendid specimens, to all other jewels, 
and even in the time of her husband's greatest prosperity 
never wore diamonds. Perhaps, as Madame Lenormant 
observes, she experienced a certain feminine satisfaction in 
surrounding herself with objects whose dazzling whiteness 
was eclipsed by the brilliancy of her own complexion. 

Soon after her arrival, and while she was talking with 
her hostess, Madame Bacciochi, who, owing to the indis- 
position of Lucien's wife, was doing the honours, she 
noticed a gentleman standing by the fireplace in the salon. 
In the dim light she took him for Joseph Bonaparte, 
whom she had frequently met at the house of their 
common friend, Madame de Stael, and bowed pleasantly 
to him. Her greeting was returned, but with a faint 
expression of surprise, and, the next moment, she was 
conscious of her mistake, and that she had been bowing to 

17 B 


the First Consul. Her impression of him was very 
different from the one which she had received at the 
Luxembourg two years before ; and she was struck with 
the simplicity of his manners and his pleasant expression. 
Presently Napoleon beckoned Fouche to his side, and said 
a few words to him, looking at Madame Recamier mean- 
while, and making it evident that he was talking about 
her. Shortly afterwards Fouche came behind her chair, 
and whispered, " The First Consul thinks you charming." 

Madame Recamier would have been more than human 
if she had not felt a thrill of gratification at receiving this 
tribute to her charms from the man whose name was on 
every one's lips, and a little incident which occurred later 
in the evening still further disposed her to judge him 

While he was talking to the flatterers who surrounded 
him, he held the hand of Lucien's little daughter, a child 
of four years old. He had unintentionally ignored her 
presence until the child, tired of her captivity, began to 
cry, whereupon Bonaparte exclaimed, in a tone of tender 
regret, " Ah, fauvre petite, I had forgotten thee ! " More 
than once in after years, Madame Recamier recalled this 
excess of apparent kindheartedness, and contrasted it with 
the harshness of his treatment of herself and others. 

When dinner was announced, Napoleon rose, and led 
the way into the dining-room without offering his arm to 
any lady. The guests followed, and seated themselves 
almost without regard to order. Bonaparte himself sat at 
the middle of the table, with his mother, Madame Letitia 
(" Madame Mere," as she was afterwards called), on his 
right. On his left a place remained vacant, which no one 
presumed to occupy. Madame Recamier, to whom her 
hostess, as they were passing into tke dining-room, had 



said a few words the meaning of which she had failed to 
grasp, took a seat on the same side of the table as the First 
Consul, but at some distance from him. Napoleon then 
turned angrily towards the persons still standing, and said 
brusquely to Garat, the famous singer, pointing to the 
vacant place at his side, " Come, Garat, sit down there ! " 
At the same moment,Cambac6res, the Second Consul, seated 
himself next to Madame Rcamier, whereupon Napoleon 
remarked, loud enough to be heard by every one in the 
room, " Ha ! ha ! Citizen Consul, next to the prettiest." 

Dinner was soon over. Bonaparte ate very little and very 
fast; and at the end of half an hour rose from the table and 
left the room. Most of the guests rose too, and, in the com- 
motion which ensued, he came up to Madame Re"camier, 
and asked : " Why did you not sit next to me at dinner ?" 

" I should not have presumed to do so," she replied. 

" It was your place," rejoined Bonaparte. 

" That was what I said to you before dinner," added 
Madame Bacciochi, who was standing by. 

A move was presently made for the music-room, where 
the ladies formed a circle facing the performers, while the 
men stood behind them. Bonaparte sat near the piano in 
solitary state. Garat sang, with admirable expression, a 
passage from Gluck, which was loudly applauded. After 
this several artistes played. Bonaparte, however, did not 
care for instrumental music, and after a piece played by 
Jadin, his patience was exhausted, and he began to thump 
the piano, calling out " Garat ! Garat ! " This summons 
could not but be obeyed, and Garat sang a song from 
Orpheus, and surpassed himself. 

Madame R6camier, who was devoted to music, was so 
fascinated by Garat' s wonderful singing that she paid but / 
little attention to the crowd which thronged the rooms. 



Whenever she raised her eyes, however, she found those 
of Bonaparte fixed upon her with a persistency which 
ended by making her decidedly uncomfortable. When 
the concert was over he approached her, and remarked, 
44 You are very fond of music, madame." He seemed 
disposed to continue the conversation, but Lucien coming 
up, Napoleon moved away, and Madame Rcamier returned 
home. This meeting was not without important con- 
sequences to our heroine, as will presently be related. 

Lucien Bonaparte, who thus interrupted what might 
have proved a very interesting conversation, was at this 
time four-and-twenty, taller and altogether of finer 
physique than his brother, whom he resembled in appear- 
ance, though his features were not so strongly marked as 
those of Napoleon. Lucien was, of course, quite over- 
shadowed by the fame of the First Consul, but he was, 
nevertheless, for his years, an exceptionally able man : 
indeed, the Revolution, the mother of so many precocious 
statesmen, produced none more brilliant than the second 
brother of Napoleon. An eloquent and powerful speaker, 
with an indomitable resolution which refused to yield a 
single inch to popular clamour, he rapidly made his mark 
in the Council of Five Hundred, to which he had been 
elected in 1798, and in the following year, a few weeks 
before the coup cCttat of the i8th Brumaire, he became its 
President. On that eventful day, when the timidity of 
Sieves and the ill-timed interference of Napoleon threat- 
ened to ruin all the plans of the conspirators, it was Lucien 
who stepped into the breach, and, by his coolness, prompti- 
tude, and courage, saved the Bonapartists from inevitable 

A cynic has observed that however wisely and prudently 



a man may behave in the ordinary affairs of life, in 
diplomacy, in finance, or in politics, in affairs of the heart 
he is just as prone to make himself supremely ridiculous 
as the most brainless of his sex ; and Lucien Bonaparte's 
relations with Madame R6camier afford a remarkable 
illustration of the truth of this axiom. He had met her 
for the first time, some months before, at a dinner party 
given by M. Sapey at Bagatelle, and had at once fallen 
desperately in love with her. Unfortunately for the 
object of his passion, he made not the least attempt to 
disguise the state of his feelings, which in consequence 
speedily became the talk of Paris. 

Lucien opened the siege of Madame Recamier's heart 
with a bombardment of billets-doux, couched in the most 
grandiloquent language, in which the writer assumed the 
name of Romeo, presumably because hers was Juliette. 
Of these romantic epistles, the following will serve as a 
specimen : 

"'Without love life is one long slumber* 

" What, more love letters ! ! ! Since those of St. Preux 
and Heloi'se, how many have appeared ! . . . how many 
painters have striven to copy that inimitable masterpiece. 
It is the Venus de Medicis, which a thousand artists have 
essayed in vain to equal. 

" These letters are not the fruit of long labour, and I do 
not dedicate them to immortality. They are not the 
offspring of eloquence or of genius, but of the most 
sincere passion. They are not written for the public, but 
for a beloved woman. They reveal my heart : it is a 
faithful glass, wherein to behold myself is a never-ending 



delight. My letters express my feelings, and in giving 
expression to those feelings I am happy. May these letters 
interest her for whom I write. May she hearken to my 
entreaties. May she, with pleasure, recognise herself in 
the portrait of Juliette, and think of Romeo with that 
delicious agitation which proclaims the dawn of love." 

First Letter of Romeo to Juliette. 

" Romeo writes to you, Juliette. If you refuse to read it 
you will be more cruel than our parents, whose long 
quarrels have just been settled. Doubtless these dreadful 
quarrels will not be renewed. 

" A few days ago I knew you only by reputation. I had 
seen you sometimes at churches and fetes. I knew that 
you were the most beautiful of women. A thousand 
tongues repeated your praises, but these praises and your 
charms had struck without dazzling me. Why has peace 
delivered me into your power ? Peace ... it now exists 
between our families, but trouble reigns in my heart. 

" I have seen you again ! Love seemed to smile upon 
me. Seated on a round bench I spoke with you alone. I 
thought I heard a sigh escape from your bosom. Vain 
illusion ! Convinced of my mistake, I beheld indifference 
with a tranquil brow seated between us. The passion 
which masters me is expressed in my speech, but yours 
bears the kind and cruel impress of raillery. 

" O Juliette ! Life without love is only one long 
slumber. The most beautiful of women ought to be 
compassionate : happy the man who will become the friend 
of your heart ! " 

Poor Romeo must have felt extremely foolish when his 



Juliette handed him back his first love-letter, in the 
presence of a number of common friends, praising the 
talents of the writer, but advising him not to waste in 
works of imagination the time which he might more 
profitably devote to politics. 1 However, he was not the 
man to be discouraged by the want of success which had 
attended his romantic epistles ; and so, abandoning his 
nom-de-guerrc, he wrote Madame Recamier letters the 
purport of which she could not pretend to misunderstand. 
These she showed to her husband, and proposed to forbid 
Lucien the house. But Rdcamier represented to her that 
to quarrel openly with the brother of the First Consul 
would undoubtedly compromise him, and, perhaps, 
jeopardise his business, and advised her not to repulse 
Romeo too harshly. So, for her husband's sake, she bore, 
with more or less patience, the importunities of the 
infatuated young man, meeting his most impassioned 
declarations with peals of merry laughter, but was, never- 
theless, greatly relieved when, tired of so unsuccessful 
a pursuit, his ardour cooled, and at length, becoming 
conscious of the ridiculous part he was playing, he left her 
in peace. Some months later, he sent his friend M. Sapey 
to ask Madame Recamier to return his letters ; but the 
lady very wisely refused to give them up in spite of 
entreaties and even threats ; and Madame Lenormant 
tells us that she, in her turn, preserved them " as indisput- 
able proofs of her (Madame Recamier's) virtue." 2 

1 Some little time after this, at the beginning of the Peace of Amiens, 
Lucien retaliated rather neatly on Madame Recamier for thus turning 
him into ridicule. At a supper given by Ouvrard, the financier, he 
raised his glass to toast the most beautiful of women. When all eyes 
were turned towards Madame Recamier, undeterred by her embarrass- 
ment, he exclaimed : " Eh, bien, messieurs, c'cst la Paix." 

1 Seuvtnirs, i. 34, 


Popularity of Madame Recamier's receptions Her friends 
Adrien de Montmorency Mathieu de Montmorency His 
early career His conversion His unselfish affection for 
Madame Recamier His letters La Harpe Madame 
Recamier's kindness to him His unfortunate marriage 
Practical joke played upon him at Clichy Madame Re- 
camier sits to David for her portrait And to Gerard 
Amusing incident during the sittings Madame Recamier's 
father becomes Postmaster-General He intrigues with the 
Royalists, and is arrested An interrupted dinner-party 
Bernadotte intercedes with the First Consul Madame 
Recamier's adventure in the Temple A friend in need 
Her father is released 

JACQUES RECAMIER'S position as a wealthy banker gave 
him in those days a position which he, of course, could 
not have occupied under the old regime, and his wife's 
renown as a beauty, and the fact that her salon was 
regarded as a sort of neutral ground, where all parties 
might meet, added to the popularity of her receptions, 
and their hotel in the Rue du Mont Blanc became the 
rendezvous for all that was most distinguished in social, 
political, and literary circles. There the Due de Guignes, 
Adrien and Mathieu de Montmorency, Christian de 
Lemoignon, Louis de Narbonne, La Harpe, Madame de 
Stae'l, and others of the returned exiles rubbed shoulders 
with Barere and Fouche, the Terrorists ; Murat, Massena, 



and Moreau, and the generals of the late war ; Lucien and 
Joseph Bonaparte and their sisters ; and Eugene and 
Hortense Beauharnais ; while many distinguished foreigners 
came to pay homage to the most charming hostess in 

With the two Montmorencies Madame R6camier was 
on especially friendly terms. They were cousins and 
great friends. Both had recently been struck off the list 
of emigres. The youngest, Adrien, afterwards Due de 
Laval, was then about thirty years of age. He was widely 
read, and might have passed for a wit, but for an impedi- 
ment in his speech. With his old-world manner and 
lofty ideas of honour he was an admirable representative 
of the old noblesse, and his veneration for the family of 
which he was the head amounted almost to idolatry. 
When his son died, he is said to have suffered as keenly 
from his pride of race as from his affection as a 
father. After the Restoration, he entered the diplomatic 
service, and represented his country with credit, if 
not with distinction, at Madrid, Rome, Vienna, and 

His cousin, Mathieu, afterwards Due de Montmorency, 
was a much abler man, and altogether a more interesting 
character. He was born in 1760, and, when little more 
than a boy, accompanied Lafayette to America, serving 
with the Auvergne regiment, of which his father was at 
that time colonel. He was an intimate friend of Madame 
de Stael, and belonged to that small class among the 
French aristocracy which had embraced liberal ideas. It 
was, indeed, on a motion brought forward by Mathieu dc 
Montmorency, then deputy to the States- General, that the 
National Assembly abolished, on the night of the Fourth 
of August, the privileges of the nobility privileges which 


he, as a Montmorency, was, of course, vitally interested 
in maintaining. 

In 1792, he emigrated to Switzerland, as by that time 
France had got too hot to hold even so ardent a disciple 
of progress as himself, and while there learned that his 
brother, the Abbe de Laval, to whom he was most 
devotedly attached, had been guillotined. Mathieu was 
inconsolable at his brother's death, of which, mindful of 
the part he had taken in promoting the Revolution, he 
accused himself of being the cause. From that moment 
he was a changed man, and, whereas he had hitherto led a 
gay and dissipated life, he now became, under the influence 
of Madame de Stael, an austere and fervent Christian. 

Between Mathieu and Madame Recamier the most 
perfect sympathy always existed ; indeed, his pure and 
unselfish affection for her is, perhaps, the most interesting 
phase of the early part of her life. He was quick to 
perceive the temptations to which a young and lovely 
woman, whom destiny had precluded from the natural 
affections of a wife and a mother, must necessarily be 
exposed, and, accordingly, did his utmost to impress her 
with his own religious convictions, the while he watched 
over her with a more than paternal solicitude. Mathieu 
de Montmorericy's letters are a rare example of a love 
whose purity is equal to its sincerity. 


"How charmingly you know how to express your 
sentiments, and how charming those sentiments are ! 
What balm you know how to apply to the wounds that, 
in another way, you inflict upon a sincere friend ! Ah, 
madame, you regard and estimate me with the prejudices 



of the most kind and indulgent of natures, which, in fact, 
leads you to set too high a value upon my merits instead 
of judging me impartially. But, in your eyes, I am willing 
to appear a thousand times better than I really am. I 
would like to unite all the privileges of a father, of a 
brother, of a friend, to obtain your friendship, your entire 
confidence, for one object alone in order to influence you 
for your own happiness, and to see you entering on the 
only road which is able to guide you thither the only 
road worthy of your heart, of your mind, of the sublime 
mission to which you are called ; in one single word, to 
induce you to take a firm resolution. For everything 
depends upon that. Must I confess it to you ? I seek 
eagerly, yet in vain, for some indication of it in your 
actions, in all those little involuntary details of conduct, 
not one of which escapes me. Nothing reassures me, 
nothing satisfies me. Ah ! I know not how to conceal it 
from you : I come away feeling terribly depressed. I 
shudder at perceiving you threatened with the loss of true 
happiness, and myself with the loss of a friend. God and 
yourself forbid me to altogether despair : I will obey ; I 
will pray without ceasing. He alone is able to open your 
eyes, and to convince you that a heart that truly loves 
Him is not so empty as you imagine. He alone is able 
to inspire you with a genuine inclination not a transient, 
but a continuous and permanent one for those duties 
and occupations which will be entirely in keeping with the 
goodness of your heart, and which will occupy in a pleasant 
and profitable manner much of your time. 

" I was not jesting in the least when I asked you to 
assist me in my work on behalf of the Sisters of Charity, 
Nothing could be more delightful or of greater service 
to me. It would throw a peculiar fascination over my work, 


which would overcome my idleness, and give me a new 
interest therein. 

" Do nothing but what is good and kind ; nothing that 
will cause any heart-breaks, or leave any regrets behind. 
But, in the name of God, in the name of our friendship, 
renounce what is unworthy of you, and what under no 
circumstances can bring you happiness." 


" Be assured that it is impossible to set any limits to the 
infinite mercies of Him to whom you desire to address 
yourself in all sincerity, nor the marvellous and totally 
unexpected changes that He works in hearts regenerated 
by a true piety. I count the days that separate you from 
this regeneration so ardently looked forward to by your 
true friends. I also count the days that pass by without 
seeing you, and I accept the appointment for Tuesday. 

" Allow me to remind you of the books that I have had 
the pleasure of lending you. Do not omit to read a few 
pages of them every morning. I fancy that I have also 
spoken to you of Les Reflexions sur la misericorde de Dieu y 
by Mademoiselle de La Valliere, in which you will be doubly 
interested on account of its sentiments and its author. You 
have told me that your softened heart often turns to God. 
Continue and foster this excellent habit. I trust that our 
thoughts have already met, and will often meet on this 
road. My dearest wish, which you will pardon me for 
expressing, is that you may always find your evening 
gaieties and many of the people who are called pleasant a 
little tiresome. Is not that a very unkind wish ? However, 
pray believe that my intentions are good. 

" I am not without fear of the daily effects of these 



frivolous surroundings of yours, which can do you no 
good, and which are unworthy of you. When you have 
read nothing serious during the day ; when you have 
scarcely been able to spare a few moments for meditation, 
and have passed three or four hours of an evening in an 
atmosphere contagious from its very nature, you persuade 
yourself that your convictions are still unsettled, that it is 
necessary to begin over again an examination, which, once 
made, ought to Ibe relied upon as a sure foundation* 
incapable of being shaken. Thus you lose heart and get 
discouraged. Ah ! I entreat you, in the name of that 
deep interest which you do not doubt, in the name of my 
many sad personal experiences, not to give way to these 
fatal tendencies. Take care that you do not draw back, 
and thus render your future inconsolable. Nor is this all ; 
do not advance very rapidly, if you feel you have not 
sufficient strength to do so, but at least move a few steps 
forward. Put your faith in the most earnest of prayers, 
and, at the same time, in the wisest of counsels. I hope 
you have not forgotten your promise to devote half an 
hour every day to consecutive and serious reading these 
two conditions are indispensable and also a few moments 
to prayer and meditation. Is this too much to ask for 
the greatest one might say the only interest in life ? " 

Another of Madame Rcamier's most intimate friends 
was the famous critic La Harpe, whose Lycee ou Cours du 
Litterature, in spite of the bitterness with which the 
author assailed contemporary writers, long remained a 
standard of literary criticism. Madame Recamier always 
had a great attraction for literary men. Her taste in art 
and literature was far from contemptible ;. and the naive, 
spontaneous admiration she was accustomed to express was 



a kind of incense very acceptable to men of letters. She 
had, moreover, for the sufferings of wounded vanity a 
pity and sympathy seldom accorded them. "No one," 
says Madame Lenormant, " knew so well how to pour 
balm on the wounds that are never acknowledged, how to 
calm and soothe the bitterness of rivalry or literary 
animosities. For moral chagrins and imaginary sorrows, 
so intense in some natures, she was far excellence the 
sister of charity." * 

Her attachment to La Harpe, whom she had known 
from her childhood, was very sincere. She admired his 
talents and appreciated his wit which was more than 
could be said for the majority of his contemporaries, as it 
was of a peculiarly mordant description and was always 
kind and attentive to him. He was a frequent visitor at 
Clichy, and when he resumed his famous lectures at the 
Athenaeum, which his proscription after the coup d'etat 
of the 1 8th Fructidor had interrupted, Madame Recamier 
always made a point of attending them. Her presence, of 
course, proved a great attraction, and the lectures were 
delivered to a numerous and fashionable, if not very 
intellectual, audience. 

Madame Recamier, probably, felt that La Harpe had a 
greater claim upon her consideration than any of her 
other friends, as it was through her own husband's pro- 
pensity for matchmaking that the poor old man had been 
drawn into a most unfortunate marriage. 

It happened that Jacques R6camier had an old friend, a 
certain Madame de Longuerue, whose husband had died, 
leaving her in very poor circumstances. This lady had a 
very beautiful daughter, for whom, however, it was diffi- 
cult to find a husband owing to her lack of fortune ; and 
1 Souvenirs, i. 53. 


the good-natured banker conceived the idea of marrying 
her to La Harpe. The girl, who, not unnaturally, felt 
that a celebrated name was hardly likely to compensate 
her for accepting a husband thrice her age, protested ; but 
Madame de Longuerue, having artfully concealed the 
state of her daughter's feelings from La Harpe, at length 
succeeded in gaining her consent to the match. At the 
end of three weeks, however, the bride sued for a divorce 
on the ground that she hated her husband, a plea which 
was held quite sufficient to justify the dissolution of the 
connubial knot during the Revolutionary era, when 
divorces were so easily obtained and so common that we 
read of women who had been married four or five times. 
Poor old La Harpe, who appears to have been really 
attached to his young wife, was terribly upset ; but he 
threw no obstacle in the way of the divorce, and forgave 
the girl the scandal of the rupture. 1 

Like Mathieu de Montmorency, La Harpe had been 
wild at one time, and had changed his mode of life almost 
as suddenly. The world, however, seems at first to have 

1 Unless the following picture of the critic's mode of life is an 
exaggerated one, we can understand why young Madame de La Harpe 
was so anxious to obtain a divorce : 

"We went with Madame Recamier and the Russian Princess 
Dalgourski to La Harpe's house to hear him repeat some of his verses. 
He lives in a wretched house, and we went up dirty stairs, through 
dirty passages, where I wondered how fine ladies' trains and noses could 
go, and were received in a dark, small den by the philosopher, or 
rather d'evot, for he scorns the name of philosopher. He was in a 
dirty-reddish nightgown, and very dirty nightcap, bound round the 
forehead with a superlatively dirty chocolate-coloured ribbon. Madame 
Re'camier, the beautiful, the elegant, robed in white satin trimmed 
with white fur, seated herself on the elbow of his armchair, and 
besought him to repeat his verses. Charlotte has drawn a picture of 
thU scene." MARIA EDGEWORTH to MRS. SNEYD, January 10, 1802. 



been but little disposed to credit the sincerity of his con- 
version. The following anecdote is related by Sainte- 
Beuve, who had it from Madame Recamier : 

" It was at the chateau of Clichy, where Madame 
Recamier was spending the summer. La Harpe had come 
there to stay a few days. The question came up (the same 
one that everybody was then asking) v/hether his conversion 
was as sincere as he professed, and it was resolved to put 
it to the proof. It was the age when practical jokes were 
the fashion, and one was planned which seemed perfectly 
fair to these lively and thoughtless young men. It was 
well known that La Harpe had always been very fond of 
women, and that that had been one of his great failings. 
A nephew of M. Recamier, one of the youngest and, 
apparently, the best looking, dressed himself in woman's 
clothes, so as to represent a fine lady, and, thus disguised, 
installed himself in M. de La Harpe's room that is to 
say, in his bedroom. Quite a long story had been made 
up to account for so strange an intrusion. She had just 
arrived from Paris ; she had a most urgent favour to ask ; 
she could not make up her mind to wait till the next day. 
To be brief, M. de La Harpe when the evening came left 
the salon, and went upstairs to his room. The expectant and 
silent auditors were already on the watch behind a folding- 
screen to enjoy the fun. But what was the astonishment, the 
disappointment, and, to some extent, the remorse of these 
foolish youths, including the soi-disant lady seated in a 
corner of the fire-place, on perceiving M. de La Harpe on 
entering the room take no notice of anything, but simply 
kneel down and say a long prayer. When he rose from 
his knees and approached the bed, he caught sight of the 
lady, and drew back in astonishment. But in vain did 
the latter endeavour to stammer out some words of her 



part. M. de La Harpe cut it short, explaining that this 
was neither the time nor the place to listen to her. He 
put her off till the morrow, and courteously bowed her 
out. Next day he did not mention the visit he had 
received to any one at the chateau, nor was anything said 
to him on the subject." 1 

In 1800 Madame Recamier sat for her portrait to the 
famous painter David. The sketch he made, which 
depicts the young beauty reclining on a couch, with her 
head turned towards the onlooker, is a very pleasing one, 
but it was thought by many scarcely to do her justice, and 
David himself, it appears, was not wholly satisfied with it. 
It is, however, full of interest as an example of the leader 
of the French school of this period. It was retained by 
the painter, and offered for sale with the rest of his 
pictures by his executors in 1829, when it was purchased 
by M. Charles Lenormant, the husband of Madame 
Recamier's niece, for six thousand francs, and a few 
months later sold for the same sum to the Museum of 
the Louvre. 

A far better known and altogether more satisfactory 
portrait is the celebrated full-length one by Gerard, which 
is generally acknowledged to be one of the most beautiful 
creations of that talented artist. Gerard, who, like most 
famous painters, was of a nervous, irritable temperament, 
was greatly annoyed by the number of fashionable people 
who came to his studio, begging permission to see the 
picture, and even to be present during the sittings. For 
some time he bore these interruptions in silence, but at 
length his patience was exhausted. 

One day, just before the portrait was finished, there 
was a knock at the door, and a voice that of Christian 
1 Caus fries du Lundi, v. 108, 109. 

33 c 


de Lemoignon, one of Madame Recamier's most devoted 
admirers was heard craving admission. Poor Gerard, 
who had made up his mind to an uninterrupted morning's 
work, was furious. Going to the door, his pallet in one hand 
and his garde-main in the other, he flung it open, and in a 
voice hoarse with passion exclaimed, "Come in, monsieur, 
come in, but afterwards I shall destroy my picture ! " He 
almost pushed the intruder into the room, repeating his 
threat, and it is more than probable that he would have 
kept his word, as he was almost beside himself with anger, 
had not Lemoignon had the tact to apologise for his 
intrusion and withdraw, with the remark that he should 
be in despair if he were unfortunate enough to deprive 
posterity of one of M. Gerard's masterpieces. 

It was during this same year, 1800, that Madame 
Recamier's father, M. Bernard, was appointed Postmaster- 
General, of which office, however, he was deprived in 
1802, on a charge of countenancing a secret Royalist 
correspondence which had been circulating in the South of 
France. He was arrested, and thrown into prison, and 
matters would, undoubtedly, have gone hardly with him 
but for his beautiful daughter's exertions on his behalf. 
Madame Recamier left among her papers an interesting 
account of this event : 

" In August 1802," she says, "my father was at the 
head of the Post Office. Just at this time the Government 
was alarmed by a very active correspondence carried on by 
the Royalists : a number of pamphlets or brochures, 
written in the same cause, were circulated in the south, 
without the authorities being able to discover by what 
means they were transmitted. It had long been suspected 
that it was through the intervention of a public functionary 
the head in fact of the department, for it was under cover 


of my father that all these clandestine writings were 
passing. 1 He had never taken any of his family into his 
confidence, and both my mother and myself were entirely 
ignorant of what was going on. 

" One day Madame Bacciochi, the sister of the First 
Consul, who was anxious to make the acquaintance of 
La Harpe, asked me to invite her to dinner to meet him. 
I consented, though we were not on terms of sufficient 
ntimacy to warrant her making such a request ; but the 
ladies of the First Consul's family had already begun to 
assume the airs of princesses, and seemed to imagine that 
they conferred honour upon those who entertained them. 
The only ladies present were Madame Bacciochi, Madame 
de Stael, and my mother, while the gentlemen were 
M. de La Harpe, M. de Narbonne, and Mathieu de 

" The dinner passed off pleasantly, as one would presume 
it would do from the presence of M. de La Harpe and 
Madame de Stael, and in view of the taste which Madame 
Bacciochi at that time affected for literature. 2 

1 " The publications were edited in Paris by an abbe named Guyot, 
who took advantage of the friendship subsisting between M. Bernard 
and himself to transmit them to all those places with which M. Bernard 
kept up an official intercourse, whence they were thrown into general 
circulation." Memoires de Due de Rovige, iii. 7. 

2 " Madame Bacciochi was dressed on this occasion [Madame Junot's 
wedding dinner] with a degree of eccentricity which even now is fresh 
in my mind. She had presided in the morning at a female literary 
society ; and, proposing to establish a peculiar costume for the asso- 
ciates, she considered the readiest way to effect her purpose was to have 
a pattern made, and appear in it herself: and in this new dress she 
afterwards came to my mother's: such a medley of the Jewish, Roman, 
Middle Age, and modern Greek costumes of everything, in short, 
except French good taste was, I think, never seen." Mimoirts <U 
Du( fosse d* Abrantes, i. 412, 



u Just as we had risen from the table to go into the 
sa'on, a note was handed to my mother. Being somewhat 
uneasy about what it might contain, she glanced through 
it, and, giving a cry of pain, fainted away. 

" I ran to her, and when the remedies which we freely 
applied had restored her to consciousness, anxiously ques- 
tioned her. She handed me the note which she had just 
received. It contained the news of the arrest of my 
father, who had just been confined in the Temple prison. 
This was a great shock to all present. Though over- 
whelmed by so terrible an event, the consequences of 
which I did not dare to contemplate, I felt the necessity 
of overcoming my grief, and, summoning up all my 
strength, I approached Madame Bacciochi, who seemed 
more embarrassed than concerned. c Madame/ I said to 
her in a voice broken by emotion, ' Madame, Heaven, 
which has made you the witness of our misfortunes, intends, 
beyond doubt, to make you our deliverer. I must see 
the First Consul this very day ; it is absolutely imperative, 
and I rely on you, madame, to procure me this interview.' 

" * But/ said Madame Bacciochi, with embarrassment, 
' it seems to me that the best thing for you to do is to see 
Fouche, and find out exactly how matters stand ; then, if 
it is necessary for you to see my brother, you may come 
and tell me, and we will consider what had better be 

" 4 Where shall I be able to find you, madame r ' I 
replied, not allowing myself to be discouraged by the 
coldness with which she spoke. 

" ' At the Theatre-Fran^ais, where I am going to join 
my sister, who is waiting for me.' ' 

Poor Madame Recamier, accordingly, ordered her 
carriage and drove to Fouche's house. From that astut^ 



personage, however, she received but little consolation. 
He informed her that her father's position was a very 
serious one, but that he himself could do nothing to help 
her. He advised her to see the First Consul without a 
moment's delay, and obtain his promise that the mise en 
arraignment should not take place. If she waited till the 
next day, he would not answer for the consequences. 

In an agony of apprehension, Madame R6camier re- 
entered her carriage, and drove to the theatre to fii/d 
Madame Bacciochi, her last hope. The journal continues: 

" When I reached the Theatre-Fran^ais I could scarcely 
stand. The noise, the crowd, the lights produced a 
strange and painful sensation. Wrapping myself in my 
shawl, I was conducted to Madame Bacciochi's box, where 
I was admitted during an entr'acte. She was there with 
Madame Leclerc, 1 and, on recognising me, could not con- 
ceal an expression of keen annoyance ; but I was sustained 
by too strong a feeling to pay any attention to that. 

" * I have come, madame,' I said, * to claim the fulfil- 
ment of your promise. I must see the First Consul this 
very evening, or my father is lost.' 

" ' Well/ replied Madame Bacciochi carelessly, ' let us 
see the end of this tragedy ; when it is over I am at your 

"There was nothing to be done but to wait. I sat 
down, or rather I sank down, in the remotest corner of the 
box. Fortunately for me, it was a stage box, very deep, and 
dark enough for me to be able to give myself up without 

1 Pauline Bonaparte, Napoleon's youngest and favourite sister. She 
married General Leclerc in 1801, and after his death, which occurred 
in the following year, became the wife of the Prince Borghese, a 
wealthy Italian nobleman. She was extremely beautiful, and was the 
original of the Venus Victrix of Canova. 



restraint to my distressing thoughts. I then observed, 
for the first time, in the corner opposite to mine, a man 
whose large black eyes were fixed on me with so deep and 
kindly an interest that I was touched. After having 
endured so much coldness, it was some consolation to me 
to meet with a little kindness and compassion. 

" At this moment Madame Leclerc turned abruptly 
towards me, and asked if I had seen Lafont before in the 
role of Achilles. Then, without waiting for a reply, she 
added, * He is very handsome, but to-day he is wearing a 
helmet which does not become him in the least.' l 

" At this idle question, and these frivolous and cruel 
words, which showed the most complete indifference to 
the situation in which I was placed, the unknown gentle- 
man could not control a gesture of impatience ; and, 
having doubtless resolved to cut short my agony, bent 
towards Madame Bacciochi, and remarked to her, in an 
undertone, ' Madame Recamier appears to be in distress. 
If she will permit me, I will escort her home, and will 
myself undertake to speak to the First Consul.' 

" ' Yes, of course,' answered Madame Bacciochi eagerly, 
delighted to be relieved of this disagreeable duty. 
' Nothing could be more fortunate for you/ she added, 
turning to me. ' Confide in General Bernadotte ; there is 
no one better able to help you.' ' 

Bernadotte, for her unknown friend Was none other 

1 The celebrated actor Pierre Lafont was born at La Linde, in 
Perigord, in 1775. After performing for three or four years in the 
provinces, he came to Paris towards the end of the year 1799 ; and, in 
the following May, appeared at the Comedie Fran9aise as Achilles in 
Iphigenia in Aulis, and scored an unqualified success. He excelled both 
in tragedy and comedy. He was generally believed to be the lover 
or rather one of the lovers, for "la jolie Paulette " was very free 
with her favours of Madame Leclerc. 



than the future King of Sweden, drove with Madame 
Recamier, who had, of course, gratefully accepted his offer 
of mediation, to her house, and then left to proceed to the 
Tuileries, promising to return as soon as he had seen the 
First Consul. 

Madame Recamier found her own salon full of people, 
who had come to inquire the particulars of M. Bernard's 
arrest, which was already common property. She had not 
the courage to face them, however, but retired to her room 
to wait for Bernadotte, and, as she tells us, to count the 
minutes until his return. He came at last in triumph, 
and informed her that he had, although not without con- 
siderable difficulty, obtained a promise from the First 
Consul that her father should not be arraigned ; and he 
hoped to procure his release in the course of a few days. 

Next morning Madame Recamier, anxious to impart 
the good news to her imprisoned father, hastened to the 
Temple, where he was confined, and persuaded one of the 
turnkeys, named Coulommier, to allow her to see him for 
a few moments. Scarcely, however, had she been admitted 
to his cell when Coulommier rushed in, pale and frightened, 
and, opening a door in the wall, thrust her into what 
appeared to be a small dungeon, where he left her in total 
darkness. Presently she heard voices in her father's cell ; 
then the opening and closing of a door, after which all 
was still. 

Poor Madame Recamier remained shut up in her 
dungeon for two hours it seemed to her more like two 
years for she was half stupefied with thinking of all the 
horrors that had been committed in the Temple, and 
imagining that Coulommier had been detected in some 
breach of duty, and had been himself imprisoned, in which 
case no one might discover where she was until it was too 



late. At the end of that time she heard the sound of keys, 
and, to her joy, Coulommier came and released her, explain- 
ing that, just after she had entered her father's cell, the 
Prefect of Police had sent some gendarmes to conduct 
M. Bernard to the Prefecture, and that he had had no 
alternative but to conceal her, or run the risk of dismissal 
from his post, or, possibly, of a worse fate. 

Bernadotte, in the meanwhile, had not relaxed his 
exertions, and, a few days later, he came to Madame 
Recamier's, holding in his hand the order for her father's 
release ; and asked, as his only reward, permission to 
escort her to the Temple to free the prisoner. Madame 
Recamier, it is needless to say, overwhelmed the kind- 
hearted general with thanks, and he became from that 
moment one of her most intimate friends. 

Although he obtained his freedom, Jean Bernard was, 
of course, dismissed from his office, nor does there seem to 
have been the slightest doubt but that he was deeply 
implicated in the Royalist conspiracy. 


Madame Recamier queen of Paris society Her beauty and 
virtue Charles James Fox's high opinion of her Fox in 
Paris His interviews with Bonaparte Amusing incident at 
the Opera An Irishman's impressions of Madame Recamier 
Mary Berry's description of her Paris during the Peace of 
Amiens A drawing-room at the Tuileries DemidofFs ball 
The masked balls at the Opera Madame Recamier's adven- 
ture with the Prince of Wiirtemberg Madame Recamier 
visits England Enthusiasm she arouses Embarrassing situa- 
tion at Covent Garden Amusing letter in the Gentleman's 
Magazine Rupture of the Peace of Amiens Growing power 
of Bonaparte Intrigues of Bernadotte against him Ani- 
mosity between Bonaparte and Madame de Stael Reasons 
for this Banishment of Madame de Stael Bernadotte renews 
his intrigues Madame Moreau's ball Bernadotte's efforts 
to win over Moreau Trial of Moreau, Pichegru, and 
Cadoudal Madame Recamier's account of it Banishment 
of Moreau The First Consul sends for Bernadotte Berna- 
dotte's account of their interview 

THE first seven years of the nineteenth century may be 
regarded as the period of Madame Recamier's reign as 
queen of Parisian society. Her husband's banking house 
had now become one of the wealthiest in France, and she 
only had to express a wish to see it immediately gratified ; 
so that at their country-seat at Clichy, and at their hotel 
in the Rue du Mont Blanc she was able to entertain in 
regal style all the most distinguished people in Paris. 


Juliette was now in the zenith of her beauty and popu- 
larity. She was by this time entirely free from a slight 
bashfulness from which she had suffered when she first 
appeared in society, and her manners were charming, 
while she seems to have been as good as she was beautiful. 
It is true that, according to our English ideas, she must 
have been a desperate flirt, though this does not appear to 
have arisen from any craving for admiration, but rather 
from a desire to be loved by her friends a desire not un- 
natural in a woman married to a husband more than twice 
her age, and entirely engrossed in the management of his 
business. She, certainly, does not seem to have been so 
indifferent to the many celebrated men who laid their 
hearts at her feet as she had shown herself to the advances 
of Lucien Bonaparte. But, on the other hand, it has not 
been suggested by any one, that is to say, whose opinion 
carries any weight that she ever exceeded the bounds of 
harmless flirtation : indeed, we have a striking testimony 
to her virtue from a contemporary who was certainly by 
no means prone to credit any lady with that quality 
unless she had given very substantial proof of possessing 
it Charles James Fox, who pronounced her to be " the 
only woman who united the attractions of pleasure to 
those of modesty." 

Fox visited Paris during the Peace of Amiens, that 
brief lull in the terrible storm which deluged Europe in 
blood for so many years. He was accompanied by his 
wife (formerly Mrs. Armistead), his marriage to whom, 
although it had taken place, privately, seven years before, 
had only just been publicly announced, and John Bernard 
Trotter, a young Irishman who, subsequently, became his 
private secretary, and to whose " Memoirs of Fox " we 
are indebted for many interesting details of the great 



Whig statesman's last years. The principal object of his 
visit seems to have been to make researches in the 
Archives for his projected history of the Stuarts, but he 
found time to mix freely in Parisian society, where, as his 
predilection for France was, of course, well known, he 
was greeted with enthusiasm. He had several interviews 
with Bonaparte, who, always anxious to conciliate the 
English Whigs, and create if possible a Bonapartist faction 
in that country, received him with marked cordiality. 
Fox's conversations with Napoleon, however, do not seem 
to have raised his opinion of the First Consul, whom he 
describes as " a young man intoxicated with success." 

Fox soon became on very friendly terms with Madame 
Recamier and her immediate circle, and was a frequent 
visitor at Clichy. One afternoon Madame Recamier 
called for him in her carriage, and insisted on taking 
him for a drive along the Boulevards. " Before you came, 
Mr. Fox," said she, " I was the fashion ; it is a point of 

honour, therefore, that I should not appear jealous of 


Some days after this drive, while Fox was sitting with 
Madame Recamier in her box at the Opera, a Frenchman 
entered, and handed each of them a copy of an ode, in 
which the English statesman was eulogised under the title 
of Jupiter, and his fair companion under that of Venus. 
On reading this extraordinary effusion, Fox felt naturally 
somewhat embarrassed ; but Madame Recamier only 
laughed, and assured him that she cared not a jot for the 
opinion of the good people of Paris. She was, un- 
doubtedly, far too careless of her reputation, and it is 
hardly surprising that some of her most innocent friend- 
ships should have been construed into intrigues. 

If Fox was favourably impressed by Madame Recamier, 



his friend and travelling companion, Mr. Trotter, seems 
to have been completely overpowered by her charms, for 
in the " Memoirs," already referred to, we find her thus 
described : 

" The lovely phantom, breathing a thousand delicious 
charms, yet flits before me and so ingenuous and 
unaffected ! shunning the ardent gaze, and, if conscious 
of her dazzling beauty, unassuming and devoid of pride ; 
rich at the first of female virtues a kind and noble heart." 3 

It is interesting to compare the susceptible Irishman's 
description of Madame Recamier with that of Mary Berry, 
who also met her, for the first time, during the Peace of 
Amiens : 

"... Madame Recamier, a rich banker's wife, who 
has the finest house in Paris in the new style, and is 
herself the decided beauty of the new world, for if she 
can be called handsome, it is entirely a figure de fantasie. 
She has a clear complexion, is young, tall, dressed with 
much affectation of singularity in the extravagance of the 
mode ; her manners are douceurcuses y thinking much of 
herself, with perfect carelessness about others ; for, besides 
being a beauty, she has pretensions, I understand, to bel- 
esprit. They may be as well founded, and yet not sufficient 
to burn her for a witch." 2 

This sounds rather ill-natured ; but Madame Recamier 
had a way of monopolising the adoration of the opposite 
sex at any ball or dinner-party at which she happened to 
be present, which ladies who met her for the first time must 
have found somewhat galling, and which even " an angel 
inside and out," as Horace Walpole declared Mary Berry 
to be, could not easily forgive. 

1 Trotter's " Memoirs of Charles James Fox," p. 341. 
8 Miss Berry's "Journal and Correspondence," ii, 177. 


Paris was very gay that spring. No sooner was peace 
concluded than numbers of English people flocked across 
the Channel, eager to behold the city which had been the 
theatre of such stirring events, and the dictator whose 
name was on everybody's lips. To such lengths was the 
anxiety to see Napoleon carried that people actually came 
to France for a few hours, went to a review of the troops, 
saw the First Consul, and returned to England. Not only 
England, however, but every country in Europe con- 
tributed its quota of visitors ; and the various ambassadors 
were simply overwhelmed with applications from people 
who wished to be presented at the Tuileries. Miss Berry 
has left us an interesting account of a kind of drawing- 
room held nominally, of course, by Josephine, but really 
by Napoleon. 

On this occasion the ladies to be presented were ranged 
in a circle at one end of the salon, round which Bonaparte 
passed, accompanied by the two Prefets du Palais^ and 
followed^ at a respectful distance, by Josephine. One of the 
Prefets announced the name and nationality of each lady 
in turn, after which the First Consul talked to her for two 
or three minutes about the Opera, the respective merits of 
French and Italian actors, the benefits to be derived from 
horse-exercise, and such like topics ; and then passed on 
to the next. Madame Bonaparte, who, we are told, " wore, 
by way of being in a smart demi-parure, a pink slight silk 
gown, with a pink velvet round spot upon it, a small white 
silk or satin hat, with three small white feathers, tied 
under the chin, and carried a handkerchief and no fan in 
her hand,'* also spoke to each lady in turn. As, however, 
she had no attendant to announce to her any of their 
names, the ceremony would appear to have been rather an 
informal one in her case. 



But whatever innovations may be introduced at Court, 
they are almost certain to find imitators in society. There 
happened to be in Paris at this time a wealthy young 
Russian named DemidofF, who entertained on a most 
sumptuous and regal scale. This DemidofF gave a 
magnificent ball at the Hotel de Montholon, to which all 
Paris was invited. A feature of this entertainment was that 
a bouquetiere was stationed in the ante-chamber, who 
presented each lady with a splendid bouquet of hothouse 
flowers, with an intimation that she was at liberty to 
exchange it for a fresh one as often as she pleased during 
the evening. What was the astonishment of the guests, 
however, especially the English portion of them, to find 
on their arrival that it was their host and not their 
hostess who received and did all the honours, and that 
poor Madame DemidofF occupied quite a secondary 

At this period the masked balls at the Opera were all 
the fashion, and were attended by the best people in Paris. 
Ladies went to them in masks and dominoes, but gentle- 
men in ordinary evening dress. The term bat was 
somewhat of a misnomer, for there was little or no 
dancing ; and the amusement of the evening depended on 
the mystery which surrounded the fair portion of the 
audience, who were permitted to freely accost and even 
attach themselves to any gentleman present. It was here 
that a lady could gratify a long cherished grudge, and, 
secure in the protection of her disguise, indulge in some 
very unpleasant home thrusts, or even reveal a secret passion, 
while the ugly little mask concealed her modest blushes. 
The fortunate or unfortunate individual thus addressed, 
of course, did all in his power to discover who the lady 
could be in whose bosom he had aroused these amorous or 


vindictive feelings, and many were the strange adventures 
which were met with at the Opera balls. 

Madame Recamier attended several of these balls, under 
the escort of her brother-in-law Laurent Recamier, and 
met with a number of piquant adventures, and made 
several acquaintances which afterwards ripened into friend- 
ships. Among them was the young Prince afterwards 
King of Wurtemberg who had been presented to her at 
one of her grand balls at the Rue du Mont Blanc, but 
with whom she had not on that occasion had the oppor- 
tunity of exchanging more than a few words. Under 
cover of her disguise, she accosted him one evening, and, 
after they had conversed for a while on ordinary topics, 
asked him what he thought of Madame Recamier. 

The Prince replied that he thought her very lovely, but 
that she was too inanimate to please him. Thereupon 
Madame Recamier, emboldened by her mask, commenced 
a very lively and fascinating conversation, with the result 
that the Prince was completely captivated, and entreated 
her to unmask. This she declined to do, but gave him a 
ring, saying that she would claim it at another ball (not a 
masked one) to be given a few days later. The Prince's 
astonishment and confusion may be imagined, when he 
discovered, on the evening in question, that the insipid 
beauty of the Rue du Mont Blanc and the vivacious 
owner of the ring were one and the same person. 

In the spring of 1802 Madame Recamier with her 
mother paid a visit to England. Furnished with excellent 
introductions by the old Due de Guignes, who had been 
ambassador at St. James's thirty years before, and a great 
favourite in society, and still more recommended by her 
reputation as a beauty, she was warmly welcomed in 
London. Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire, still one of 



the most beautiful women of the day, " quoique privee 
d'un ceil quelle couvrait d'une boucle de ses cheveux" was 
especially friendly, and Madame Recamier 's first appear- 
ance in public was in the duchess's box at Covent Garden. 
The Prince of Wales, the exiled Due d'Orleans, and his two 
young brothers, the Due de Montpensier and the Comte 
de Beaujolais, were also of the party, and the "first gentle- 
man in Europe " paid the lovely stranger the most marked 

As soon as Madame Recamier entered the box every glass 
was turned in her direction, while a low buzz of curiosity 
and admiration ran round the house, whereupon the Prince 
suggested that it would be advisable for the party to 
leave before the conclusion of the play, in order to escape 
the too obtrusive admiration of the crowd. The duchess 
concurred, but when they rose to leave, the audience rose 
too, and, regardless of the fact that the performance was 
not yet over, left their seats and flocked into the vestibule, 
determined to have as close a view as possible of the 
beautiful Frenchwoman. So great was the crowd that poor 
Madame Recamier was nearly swept off her feet ; but, 
fortunately, managed at length to reach her carriage in 

Madame Recamier's reception at Covent Garden was 
only a foretaste of what was in store for her. Whenever 
she appeared in public she was followed by large and 
admiring crowds ; her engagements, her remarks, her 
every movement were as faithfully chronicled by the 
newspapers as if she had been a royal personage ; while 
her portrait, engraved by Bartolozzi, was to be seen in 
every shop window, and made its way from England to 
the Ionian Islands (" Beauty returning to the land which 
gave it birth," one of her admirers gallantly remarked), 



India, and even China. The following amusing letter, 
which appeared in the Gentleman 's Magazine for November 
of that year, and was, apparently, intended as a protest 
against the classic garb in which Madame Recamier sat 
for her portrait, will give some idea of the interest which 
her visit aroused in England : 

" October 9. 

" MR. URBAN, Every husband, father, and brother in 
his Majesty 's dominions owes thanks to the author of 
* Remarks on Female Manners' reviewed on p. 846 : and 
you, Sir, must also claim a due share of praise for your 
endeavours to stir up the public indignation against such 
levities as seem to be now systematically introducing 
amongst us. We were informed by the Newspapers, the 
beginning of last spring, that a lady of exquisite beauty 
and elegance would walk in Kensington-gardens on the 
following Sunday. The next week we were told by the 
same papers that the public curiosity was so excited that 
the lady suffered the greatest inconvenience from the 
throng which surrounded her, whose rudeness was so 
great as even to lift up her veil that they might gaze upon 
her face. 1 Now, Mr. Urban, was not all this consequence 
intended by the previous notice, and has not the same lady 
left behind her an infamous proof of her own desire to 
draw aside the veil ? Witness the exposure of her 
indecent portrait, now exhibiting in all the print-shops of 
the metropolis : but which I trust will not find its way 
into the houses of any of our English families who have 
the least regard to chastity, and the preservation of that 

1 A newspaper of the day in extenuation of this outrage says that 
"great part of the crowd consisted of Italian corset-makers, men- 
milliners, and shoemakers, who were endeavouring each to catch the 
fashion of her shoe and the quality of her veil." 

49 D 


characteristic modesty which heretofore distinguished the 
British female. 

"As to the lady in question, I hope it will be some 
mortification to her vanity to be told that the figure of 
herself which she has left behind has drawn forth no 
better praise than what is contained in the following 
miserable epigram, written under the portrait (or, if Mr. 
Urban has no objection to mention names, under the 
portrait of Madame Recamier) : 

'* Can modest females en chemise 

Court public notice ? Surely not. 
Such only can expect to please 

Those like themselves les sans culottes. 

" Y'ours, etc. 

"B. S." 

A few months after Madame R6camier returned home, 
England and France were once more locked in a death 
grapple, and all communication between the fashionable 
worlds of London and Paris was cut off for eleven long 

The year which followed the renewal of hostilities was 
an eventful one for Madame Recamier and her friends. 
It was becoming daily more apparent that nothing short 
of the vacant throne would be likely to satisfy the ambition 
of Bonaparte, and the prospect was one which filled the 
old Republicans with alarm and apprehension. They 
recognised, however, that to oppose Bonaparte at this 
stage of his career courage of no ordinary kind would be 
required ; for not only had he shown himself perfectly 
unscrupulous in his dealings with his political opponents, 
but every advantage was now on his side. The army was 
devoted to their victorious leader ; the Press had been 


effectually muzzled ; and the vast majority of the nation, 
heartily sick of revolutionary changes, would be far more 
disposed to resent than to support any attempt to interfere 
with the man whom they regarded as the champion of 
order against anarchy. 

The centre of the Republican opposition to Bonaparte 
at this time was Madame Rdcamier's new friend Bernadotte, 
who had been one of the first to divine the real intentions 
of the First Consul. Bernadotte's plan was to proceed 
by constitutional means. He proposed that a memorial, 
signed by a number of the leading men in France, should 
be presented to Bonaparte, representing that the friends 
of liberty had paid too high a price for it to allow such 
sacrifices to be turned to the glorification of one man, 
however well he may have deserved of the State. Should 
Bonaparte return a favourable answer to this memorial, 
and express his willingness to abide by the terms of the 
Constitution, their purpose would have been achieved : 
if not, a resolution calling upon him to resign, or im- 
posing fresh limitations on his power, could be brought 
forward in the Senate. 

This proposal sounded to Madame Rcamier, whom 
the general made his confidante, both "just and generous," 
but unfortunately Bernadotte could not find a single 
Republican senator with the courage of his convictions. 
They agreed that the power of Bonaparte " had increased, 
was increasing, and ought to be diminished " ; but to sub- 
scribe to a resolution to that effect, which would definitely 
commit them to a struggle with so formidable an antago- 
nist, was quite another matter ; and they one and all 
refused their signatures to the document. 

It must not be supposed that the First Consul long 
remained in ignorance of what was going on. Few things 



escaped the vigilant eyes of his secret police. He had no 
wish to strike at Bernadotte, who was but a poor schemer, 
though a brave soldier, and, moreover, connected with his 
own family, having married Madame Joseph Bonaparte's 
sister, Desire Clary, an old playfellow of the First Consul. 
As for the other conspirators, he despised them as timid 
doctrinaires, who had brought their country to the verge 
of ruin in the past, but were impotent when confronted 
with a man of courage and resolution. There was one 
person in the Opposition ranks, however, whom he both 
feared and hated, and of whom he now determined to 
make an example. This was Madame de Stae'l, in whose 
salon Bernadotte and his friends had been in the habit of 

The exact date of the beginning of what has been styled 
Madame de StaeTs duel with Napoleon is not very easy to 
determine, but the probability is that it dates from the 
early days of the Consulate. " When Bonaparte became 
First Consul," says Madame de Remusat, " Madame de 
Stae'l was already celebrated for her opinions, her mode of 
life, and her writings. Such a man as Bonaparte would 
naturally excite first the curiosity and then the enthusiasm 
of a woman so alive to anything out of the common as 
Madame de Stae'l. She was enraptured, and eagerly 
sought his acquaintance. She thought that one who 
united so many remarkable gifts with so many favourable 
opportunities would be a powerful promoter of liberty, 
which was her idol ; but she alarmed Bonaparte, who did 
not choose to be either closely watched or clearly inter- 
preted." i 

1 Bourrienne puts the beginning of the quarrel much earlier, and 
Madame de Stael's conduct in a far from favourable light. " Madame 
de Stael," he says, " had not been introduced to him (Bonaparte), and 



Bonaparte, in fact, disliked clever women, and received 
Madame de StaeTs friendly advances with studied cold- 
ness, and disconcerted her with the brevity and down- 
Tightness of his speech. The lady, however, was not one 
to accept defeat lightly, and she tells us how, hearing that 
the First Consul had expressed himself unfavourably about 
her, she had, before going to a dinner-party at Berthier's 
at which he was to be present, " written down a number 
of tart and piquant replies which she might make to the 
questions which she supposed he would address to her." 
On this occasion, however, Bonaparte avoided her, and 
gave her no opportunity for retaliation, and, in a passage 
of arms which took place soon afterwards, and in which 
Madame de Stae'l was herself the aggressor, gained a very 
decisive victory. 

The authoress had asked him with that direct mode of 
attack which Byron found so trying, "Whom do you 
think the greatest woman alive or dead ? " and was met 
with the sarcastic retort, " Her, madame, who has given 

knew nothing more of him than what had been published respecting 
the young conqueror of Italy when she addressed to him letters full of 
enthusiasm. Bonaparte read some passages of them to me, and, laugh- 
ing, said : ' What do you think, Bourrienne, of these extravagances ? 
This woman is mad.' I recollect that in one of her letters Madame 
de Stae'l, among other things, told him that they certainly were created 
for each other ; that it was in consequence of error in human institu- 
tions that the quiet and gentle Josephine was united to his fate ; that 
nature seemed to have destined for a hero such as he a soul of fire like 
her own. These extravagances disgusted Bonaparte to a degree which I 
cannot describe. When he had finished reading these fine epistles, he 
used to throw them into the fire, or tear them to pieces, with marked ill- 
humour, and would say, ' Well, here is a woman who pretends to genius 
a maker of sentiments, and she presumes to compare herself to Josephine. 
Bourrienne, I shall not reply to these letters.' " " Memoirs of Napo- 
leon " (Colonel Phipps's translation), ii. 365. 



most sons to the State ! " " They say you are not very 
friendly to the sex," she resumed. * c I am very fond of 
my wife," he replied, and abruptly turned away. 

There was nothing in these replies to call forth any 
particular resentment, for Napoleon's lack of good breed- 
ing was always especially manifest in his conversation with 
women, whom he delighted to embarrass by peremptory 
remarks which admitted of no reply, and even by rude- 
ness of language, which could not fail to both perplex and 
mortify them. Bourrienne tells us that he often addressed 
to them such remarks as " How red your elbows are ! " 
" What a strange head-dress you wear ! " " Pray, tell me, 
do you ever change your gown ? " familiarities which 
few of them dared to resent. 1 Madame de Stael, how- 
ever, was not as other women, and it is said that she never 
forgave Napoleon these sarcastic answers, and vowed 
vengeance. Her reprisals took the form of biting bon- 
mots directed against the First Consul and his family, 
which, of course, never failed to reach Bonaparte's ears. 
Wit and sarcasm are deadly weapons enough, if effectually 
manipulated, and in the hands of Madame de Stael they cut 

1 " The celebrated Sophie Gay, a friend and defender of Madame de 
Stael, was less timid before him, and repelled his cynicism by her ready 
repartee. She was on intimate terms with his sister Pauline, and met 
him at her house at Aix-la-Chapelle. In passing near the young 
authoress, he said to her very brusquely and with the eagle glance 
before which most women cowered, * Madame, my sister has told you 
that I do not like intellectual women.' ' Yes, sire,' she responded, 
not at all disconcerted ; ' yes, sire ; but I do not believe her.' The 
Emperor was surprised, and made another attempt. 'You write, do 
you not ? What have you produced since you have been in this 
country ? ' ' Three children, sire,' she proudly replied. He passed 
on, pretending to smile. The lady's wit was too much for his own. 
One of these children was Delphine, well-known in our day as the 
accomplished authoress, Madame Girardin." Biographie Universelle, xvi. 



deeper than iron or steel, and wounded Bonaparte in the 
one spot in which he was vulnerablehis vanity. He 
had no means of counteracting these attacks except by 
resorting to extreme measures, and these he finally took. 
It is only fair to Bonaparte to observe, however, that it is 
very doubtful whether Madame de Stae'l would have had 
any reason to complain of his treatment of her had she 
not deliberately gone out of her way to provoke her 
enemy. Bonaparte, indeed, was desirous of disarming her 
hostility and winning her over to his side. " What does 
she want ? Why does she not join us ? " he asked his 
brother Joseph, who was on intimate terms with Madame 
de Stae'l, and commissioned him to sound the lady on the 
subject. When Joseph reported what Napoleon had said 
to his friend, she replied, " The difficulty, monsieur, is not 
what I want, but what I think" 

At length Benjamin Constant's (the famous publicist) 
speech in the Senate, in which he denounced the First 
Consul, although without specifying him by name, as 
aiming at arbitrary power, and which was generally 
believed to have been prompted by Madame de Stae'l ; 
the appearance of her father's (Necker) Dernieres Vues de 
Politique et de Finance, which gave great umbrage to the 
First Consul ; and, finally, her friendship with disaffected 
men like Bernadotte and Moreau, exhausted Bonaparte's 
patience, and in the autumn of 1803 Madame de Stael was 
banished forty leagues from Paris. 

This harsh and arbitrary act, revealing as it did 
despotism in its most odious form, made the friends of 
liberty more than ever apprehensive of the results of 
Bonaparte's assumption of absolute power. Bernadotte, 
Madame Rcamier tells us, showed her a list of Republican 
generals upon whom he thought he could rely, but Victor 



Moreau, the hero of Hohenlinden, the one man above all 
others whose co-operation was essential to the success of 
his plans, was not among them. He had refused to join. 
Bernadotte had several interviews with Moreau, both at 
the latter's country house at Grosbois, and at Madame 
Recamier's, and used every argument he could think of 
to induce him to take the lead against Bonaparte, but all 
to no purpose. The Republican general, though admit- 
ting the gravity of the situation, was fearful of provoking 
civil war, and disinclined to take part in any movement 
which might redound to the advantage of the hated 

In the early part of the winter Madame Moreau gave a 
ball. All the foreigners in Paris were there, but Madame 
Recamier was struck by the absence of everybody con- 
nected with the Government. Both Moreau and Berna- 
dotte, too, seemed preoccupied; and during a quadrille 
the latter offered her his arm to go and get a little air, 
" although," remarks the fair conspirator, " it was our 
thoughts that needed breathing-space." 

" We retired into a small salon," she continues, " where 
only the sound of the music came to remind us of where 
we were. I confided to him my fears. He had not yet 
given up hope of Moreau, whose position both for deter- 
mining the course of any movement, and for moderating 
its possible excesses, he considered so excellent; but he 
was irritated at the thought that so many advantages 
might be lost. 

" * Were I in his place,' he said, ' I would go this even- 
ing to the Tuileries, and dictate to Bonaparte the conditions 
on which he might govern/ ' 

Moreau happened to pass by at that moment, where- 
upon Bernadotte called to him, and repeated all the 



reasons and arguments he had made use of to influence 

" * With your popular name/ said he, ' you are the only 
one amongst us who can face Bonaparte supported by the 
whole people. Think what you can do what we can do 
with you as our leader, and then decide ! ' 

Moreau reiterated what he had often said : that he felt 
the danger with which liberty was menaced ; that it was 
necessary to keep a watchful eye upon Bonaparte's move- 
ments, but that he feared civil war. He held himself in 
readiness; his friends might act, and, when the time for 
action arrived, he would be at their disposal. They might 
count on him as soon as the first movement was made, 
but, for the present, he did not feel called upon to take 
the initiative. He even disclaimed the importance which 
they thought fit to attribute to him. 

The conversation lasted a long time and grew warm. 
Bernadotte lost his temper, and said to Moreau : 

" * Ah, you are afraid to espouse the cause of liberty. 
And Bonaparte, say you, will not dare to attack it. Ah, 
well, Bonaparte will make game both of liberty and 
you ! She will perish in spite of our efforts, and you 
will be involved in her ruin without having fought for 
her/ " 

Madame Recamier tells us that she retained a vivid 
recollection of this conversation, and when, in the follow- 
ing spring, Moreau was implicated in the trial of Georges 
Cadoudal and Pichegru, she remained convinced that he 
was as innocent of all connection with that conspiracy as 
he had been of the intrigues of Bernadotte. 

Madame Recamier had not intended to be present at 
the trial, but Madame Moreau, happening to mention 
that her husband had often looked for her among his 



friends in court, she determined to go. We will let her 
relate her impressions of this cause celebre. 

" I was accompanied," she says, " by a near relation of 
M. Recamier, a magistrate named Brillat-Savarin. 1 The 
crowd was so great that not only the hall and the galleries, 
but all the approaches to the court-house were thronged 
with people. M. Savarin took me in by the door that 
opened on the amphitheatre, facing the prisoners, from 
whom I was separated by the whole length of the hall. I 
glanced hurriedly and fearfully over the benches of this 
amphitheatre to find Moreau. The moment I raised my 
veil he recognised me, and, rising from his seat, bowed. 
I returned his greeting with respect and emotion, and 
hastened down the steps to take the seat reserved for 

"The prisoners were forty-seven in number, and, for 
the most part, strangers to each other. They occupied 
the raised seats facing those on which the judges sat. Each 
prisoner was seated between two gendarmes : there was 
much deference in the manner of the two who guarded 
Moreau. I was deeply touched to see this great captain, 
whose reputation was, at that time, so great and so 
untarnished, treated as a criminal. It was no longer a 
question of Republic and Republicans ; it was with the 
exception of Moreau, whom I am convinced was an entire 
stranger to this conspiracy Royalist fidelity which 
struggled against the new power. Nevertheless, the cause 
of the ancient monarchy had for its leader a man of the 
people Georges Cadoudal. 

J Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, a member of the Court of Cassation from 
1802 till his death in 1826. He was a famous gastronomist. His well- 
known work, Physiologic du Gout, an elegant and witty compendium of 
the art of dining, has been translated into several languages. 



" That intrepid Georges ! In looking at him I thought 
that that head, so freely, so energetically devoted, was 
destined to fall on the scaffold, and, perhaps, be the only 
one not saved, since he made no effort on his own behalf. 
Scorning to defend himself, he only defended his friends. 
I heard his answers, all bearing the impress of that ancient 
faith for which he had fought so bravely, and had been 
ready long ago to lay down his life. Accordingly, when 
they endeavoured to persuade him to follow the example 
of the other prisoners, and to ask for pardon, ' Will you 
promise me/ he replied, * a better cause to die for ? ' 

" In the ranks of suspected persons were M. de Polignac 
and M. de Riviere, objects of interest on account of their 
youth and disinterestedness. Pichegru, whose name will 
be associated in history with that of Moreau, was, however, 
missing from the side of the latter, although one might 
fancy that one saw his spirit there, for it was known that 
he had died in prison. 1 Another death, that of the 
Due d'Enghien, added to the terror and grief existing in 
many minds even among the most devoted partisans of the 
First Consul. 

" Moreau did not speak, and after the session was over, 
the magistrate who had escorted me came to take me 
away. I passed the bar on the opposite side to that by 
which I had entered the court, thus passing along the 
whole length of the raised benches on which the prisoners 
sat. At that moment Moreau was coming down, followed 
by his two gendarmes and some other prisoners ; he was 
only separated from me by a railing. He spoke a few 

1 Pichegru was found strangled in his cell on the morning of April 6. 
There does not appear to be any justification for the Royalist report 
that he was made away with by Bonaparte's orders. It is far more 
probable that he took his dishonoured life with his own hands. 



words of thanks in passing, that in my agitation I scarcely 
heard. I understood, however, that he was grateful for 
my having come, and begged me to come again. This 
conversation was destined to be our last." 1 

Madame Recamier did not attend the trial again, for, 
early the next morning, she received a message from 
Cambaceres, begging her, for Moreau's sake, not to return 
to the court. The First Consul, it appeared, had, in 
reading the report of the session, seen her name in the 
list of those present, and had asked sharply, "What 
business had Madame Recamier there ? " and it was 
thought by Madame Moreau that every mark of interest 
shown in her husband would only increase his danger. 

At the close of the trial all business was suspended ; the 
whole population was in the streets, and the one topic of 
conversation the fate of Moreau. It was the general opinion 
that Bonaparte only desired Moreau to be condemned to 
death in order to pardon him ; but, on this being repeated 
to Clavier, one of the judges, he replied, " And who then 
would pardon us ? " 

The night preceding the sentence, during the whole of 
which the court continued sitting, all the approaches to 
the Palace of Justice were blocked by surging crowds, 
animated by the most intense excitement. When the 
decision of the judges was made known, it was found that 
twenty of the prisoners had been condemned to death, of 
whom ten perished with Georges Cadoudal on the scaffold. 
The others, most of whom were connected with great 
families, whom Bonaparte was anxious to conciliate, were 
imprisoned in fortresses, the ladies of the First Consul's 
family having gone through the farce of obtaining this 

1 Souvenirs, i. 104. 


Moreau's sentence was banishment for life to America. 
No one seriously believed that he was implicated in the 
conspiracy, although he had undoubtedly been approached 
by Pichegru and Cadoudal with the view of securing his 
co-operation ; but his military reputation, second only to 
that of Bonaparte himself, was naturally obnoxious to 
the First Consul, who saw in him a stumbling-block in 
the path of his ambition which must be removed at all 

One day soon after Moreau had been arrested, 
Bernadotte came to Madame Recamier in great alarm to 
inform her that he had just received a message from the 
First Consul, requiring his presence at the Tuileries. He 
had apparently forgotten all about his grand scheme for 
safeguarding the Constitution, and was fearful lest his 
frequent interviews with Moreau at the latter's country 
house should have compromised him with the Govern- 
ment. Madame Recamier made him promise to return 
and let her know the result of his interview with Bonaparte, 
and anxiously awaited him. 

When he arrived he seemed preoccupied, but more easy 
in his mind. In answer to her inquiries, he told her that 
Bonaparte had received him cordially, and proposed that 
he should throw in his lot with him, pointing out that the 
country had now declared in his favour, and that opposition 
to his plans could only end in disaster. He had concluded 
by asking Bernadotte whether he would march with him 
and with France, or hold aloof. 

Madame Recamier, who seems to have summed up her 
friend's character with tolerable accuracy, and suspected 
that personal ambition was at the root of all his intrigues, 
was not in the least surprised when Bernadotte added, a 
little shamefacedly, for she had been a witness of all his 



vapouring about liberty and republican principles, that he 
had felt that he had no alternative but to promise Bonaparte 
a loyal co-operation. 

After Napoleon became Emperor honours were showered 
upon Bernadotte. He was made a Marshal of the Empire, 
and in 1806 created Prince de Ponte-Corvo; nevertheless 
ill-feeling always existed between him and Napoleon, and 
the latter found means to give proof of this, even in the 
"ivours he bestowed upon him. 


Napoleon becomes Emperor He desires that his Court shall 
rival that of the ancient monarchy Madame de Remusat's and 
Madame de Stael's accounts of it Creation of a nobility 
Napoleon wishes to attach Madame Recamier to the Court 
Sinister motives attributed to him Fouche's visits to Clichy 
His conversation with Madame Recamier Advises her to 
apply for the post of dame du palais to the Empress His 
insinuations Annoyance and alarm of Madame Recamier 
Visits Caroline Murat at Neuilly Fouche also of the party 
Caroline seconds FoucheYeffbrts She lends Madame Recamier 
her box at the Theatre Fra^ais The Emperor's undisguised 
admiration for Madame Recamier He commissions Fouche to 
offer her the post of dame du palais She declines it Fouche*'s 
anger and threats Jacques Re'camier's bank in difficulties 
His application for assistance refused by the Bank of France 
Recamier's bank stops payment Courage of Madame 
Recamier under her reverses Universal sympathy which she 
arouses Her letter to Camille Jordan Napoleon's character- 
istic remark Letters from Madame de Stael and Bernadotte 

ON May 18 of that year the curtain was rung down on 
the farce of republican government, and the Empire of 
Charlemagne was revived in the person of the Corsican 
adventurer who had so long been monarch in everything 
but name. 

It was scarcely to be expected that Madame Recamier 
would witness the despot who had so recently deprived 
her of two of her most cherished friends ascend the vacant 



throne with any great degree of satisfaction, but true to 
the principle which she had always observed of ignoring, 
as far as possible, all political distinctions, she continued 
to extend her hospitality to both the members of the new 
aristocracy and the representatives of the old regime. 
Unfortunately, as it proved for her, the latter pre- 
dominated among her friends, and thus gave to her 
receptions a complexion which the fair hostess herself 
would have been the first to disclaim. 

Napoleon was fully resolved to leave no stone unturned 
to add to the splendour of his Court, which he intended 
should emulate that of the ancient monarchy. The pon- 
derous regulations of Louis XVI. were taken down from 
their shelves in the library of St. Cloud, and carefully 
consulted in order that a code of etiquette might be drawn 
up for the use of the new Court. The Empress sent for 
Madame Campan, who had been First Lady of the Bed- 
chamber to Marie Antoinette, and questioned her minutely 
concerning the manners and customs of the late Queen of 
France ; and Madame de Remusat tells us in her memoirs 
that she was instructed to take copious notes of Madame 
Campan's answers, and then pass them on to the Emperor, 
who was collecting similar memoranda from all sides. 

When once launched on a course of ceremonial, the 
work went merrily on. "Whoever/' says Madame de 
Stael, "could suggest an additional piece of etiquette, 
propose an additional reverence, a new mode of knocking 
at the door of an antechamber, a more ceremonious method 
of presenting a petition or folding a letter, was received as 
if he had been a benefactor of the human race. The code 
of Imperial etiquette is the most remarkably authentic 
'record of human baseness that has been treasured up by 



It was one of Napoleon's favourite maxims that an 
aristocracy is the chief prop of a throne ; and no sooner 
had he assumed the Imperial crown than he proceeded to 
create a new nobility to replace that of the old regime. 
Talleyrand became Prince de Benevento ; Berthier Prince 
de Neufchatel ; Murat, whose father was a little innkeeper 
in Perigord, and whose mother went out charing at a franc a 
day, was made Grand Duke of Berg ; Savary, who had 
superintended the murder of the young Due d'Enghien, 
received as his reward the duchy of Rovigo ; while counts 
were created by the dozen 1 and barons by the score, and 
endowed with the revenues of the conquered territories 
and the confiscated property of the emigres to enable them 
to support their new dignities. 

If rigid ceremonial and high-sounding titles had been 
all that was required to give distinction to the Court of 
the First Empire, there would have been enough and to 
spare. There is, however, another element which has to 
be taken into consideration in the formation of a Court. 
That element is woman. In that direction Napoleon soon 
found that his power, great as it was, had its limitations. 
He could create dukes, and barons, and counts ; he could 
enrich the humble and ennoble the obscure ; but he could 
not make plain women beautiful or dull women witty. 
His ill-advised harshness had deprived his Court of the 
first wit in France, and he was, therefore, doubly anxious 
that the first beauty, courted as she was both by the old 
nobility and the new society, should adorn his palace. 
Moreover, he was fully alive to the fact that t ^ie salons of 
Paris were distinctly hostile to his Government, and that at 

1 All the members of the Senate indiscriminately were ennobled, and 
given what Cambaceres, in announcing the imperial edict, called " tlie 
majestic title of Count." 



receptions like those of Madame Recamier his ambitious 
schemes were wont to be discussed, and treated with scant 
respect. He, therefore, sent for Fouch, who had lately 
been reinstated in his old office of Minister of Police, and 
instructed him to make overtures to Madame Recamier with 
the object of inducing her to join the Imperial Household. 

A far less creditable motive than that of merely under- 
mining Madame Recamier's social influence, and, at the 
same time, of adding lustre to his Court has frequently 
been ascribed to Napoleon, and it is significant that this 
view of the matter is taken not only by the lady's intimate 
friends^ who were for the most part hostile to the Emperor, 
but also by impartial chroniclers of those times, like 
Bourrienne and Madame Junot. Whether Napoleon 
really hoped to succeed where his brother Lucien had so 
conspicuously failed it is very difficult to say ; but it is 
certain that Fouche, who had as little scruple about 
pandering to his master's vices as Cardinal Dubois had to 
those of the Regent Orleans, believed such to be the case, 
and acted accordingly. 

When, in the summer of 1805, the Recamiers moved 
as usual to Clichy, Fouche became a -frequent visitor. 
Madame Recamier had no particular liking for the Police 
Minister, who had been one of the worst of the Terrorists, 
and whose name was held in abhorrence by all the Lyonnais 
on account of the cruelties perpetrated by him in their city 
in 1794 ; and she was, moreover, not a little surprised 
that so busy a man should be able to find leisure for 
country visiting. Still she was not unwilling to avail her- 
self of his influence to aid some of the unfortunate people 
who had embroiled themselves with the Government, and 
were constantly applying to her to make intercession for 
them with her powerful friends. 



One afternoon Fouch begged for a private interview, 
and Madame Recamier gave him an appointment for the 
following day. He arrived punctually, and was shown 
into the salon where his hostess was awaiting him. 

The Police Minister opened the conversation by deplor- 
ing the opposition to the new Government displayed by so 
many of the habitues of Madame Recamier's salon a 
feeling which, he observed, had been gradually increasing 
ever since the dismissal of her father, M. Bernard, from 
the Post Office. This antagonism for which there was 
no adequate reason, since Napoleon had treated M. Bernard 
with great indulgence had, he declared, seriously annoyed 
the Emperor. He strongly advised her to avoid every 
shadow of offence, as Napoleon was easily irritated, and 
concluded by reminding her that her friend the young 
and lovely Duchesse de Chevreuse had, like herself, shown 
more than coldness to the new dynasty, but had been 
promptly reduced to submission by a threat that her pro- 
perty should be confiscated. " Now," added the crafty 
Minister, " the house of De Luynes and their kinsmen, 
the Montmorencies, are only too glad to accept for the 
Duchesse de Chevreuse a place as dame du Calais to the 
Empress Josephine. The Emperor since the day when he 
first met you has never forgotten you. Be prudent, and 
do not wound his feelings." 

Madame Recamier, not a little astonished at this advice, 
thanked the Minister for the interest he took in her wel- 
fare, and disclaimed all concern in politics ; but asserted 
that it was impossible for her to abandon her friends. 
The conversation did not go any further that day, and 
presently Fouche took his leave. 

Some time afterwards, when Fouch was walking with his 
fair hostess in the park at Clichy, he said to her, with a smile : 



" Can you guess whom I was talking with about you 
for nearly an hour last evening ? With the Emperor." 

" But he scarcely knows me ! " 

" Since the day when he first met you, he has never for- 
gotten you, and although he complains that you have 
ranged yourself on the side of his enemies, he does not lay 
the blame on your own feelings, but on your friends." 

Fouch6 then insisted that Madame Recamier should 
tell him her real feelings with regard to the Emperor. 

She replied, with perfect frankness, that at first she had 
been attracted towards him by the glamour of his victories 
and the great services he had rendered to France, and that, 
on the one occasion on which they had met, she had been 
favourably impressed with his simple and natural manners ; 
but that his persecution of her friends, the exile of Madame 
de Stae'l, the banishment of Moreau, and the execution of 
the poor young Due d'Enghien had checked her enthu- 
siasm for him, and alienated her sympathies. 

Without appearing to pay much attention to what 
Madame R6camier had said, Fouch6 then boldly broached 
the subject which had brought him thither. He advised 
her to apply for a place at Court, and took it upon him- 
self to assure her that her request would be immediately 

This unexpected overture struck Madame Rcamier 
with astonishment and dismay, for she felt an invincible 
repugnance to the position it was suggested she should 
fill. Apprehensive of giving offence, however, she couched 
her refusal in the most courteous language at her com- 
mand, observing that she was highly flattered at the 
Minister's proposal, but that the simplicity of her tastes, 
her natural timidity which contact with the world had not 
succeeded in overcoming, her love of independence, and, 



above all, her husband's position in commercial circles, 
which involved constant entertaining, all precluded the 
possibility of her accepting so important a post. 

Fouche, however, made light of all these objections, 
protesting that the office would leave her entirely free ; 
and then, seizing with adroitness on the only inducement 
which would be likely to weigh with so generous a woman, 
he pointed out the important services which she would be 
in a position to render to the oppressed of all classes, the 
many grievances she would be able to bring before the 
Emperor *hich might otherwise escape his notice. He 
laid great stress upon the ascendency which a woman of 
so noble and disinterested a character, and endowed with 
such ravishing charms ought to be able to exercise over 
the mind of the Emperor. " He has not yet," he added, 
" met a woman worthy of him, and no one knows what 
the love of Napoleon might be if he attached himself to a 
virtuous woman. Assuredly he would permit her to exer- 
cise over his mind a mighty influence, which would be 
wholly for good." 

Fouche grew quite eloquent in expatiating on the great 
benefits to humanity which would be sure to follow the 
conquest of the Emperor's heart, and did not notice the 
growing disgust with which his companion was listening 
to his odious insinuations. However, fearful of offending 
him, she succeeded in mastering her righteous indignation, 
and, with an affectation of good humour, told Fouche that 
he was altogether too romantic and overrated the influence 
of pretty women ; and the Police Minister left her, by no 
means dissatisfied with the result of his mission. 

Poor Madame Recamier was terribly upset by what had 
passed, but buoyed herself up with the hope that Fouchd's 
offer had been made on his own responsibility, and not on 



that of his master. She, however, sent for Mathieu de 
Montmorency, the one friend in whose discretion she 
could place implicit confidence, and told him all that had 
occurred. Montmorency recognised at once the danger of 
her position, but could only advise her to await further 
developments, and, in the meantime, to exercise great 
prudence and reserve. 

Shortly after Fouch's visit, Madame Recamier, in 
response to a message from the Princess Caroline 
(Madame Murat), went to call upon her at Neuilly, the 
country seat which her brother had lately given her. 
The princess received her very cordially, and invited her 
to breakfast with her a few days later. When she arrived 
on the morning in question, she found, to her intense 
annoyance, that Fouche was also to be of the party ; and 
she suspected that a trap had been laid for her a suspicion 
which was confirmed when, on rising from the breakfast- 
table, her hostess proposed a walk, and suggested that the 
Police Minister should escort them. 

After a little desultory conversation on ordinary 
topics, Fouch6, as she had anticipated, returned to the 
attack. He told the princess of the proposal he had 
made to Madame Recamier, and of the latter's objections, 
and begged her to use her influence with her friend to 
induce her to accept a post in every way so desirable. 

The princess expressed herself much pleased at Fouch6's 
project, and what must have appeared to her guest not a 
little singular, since she pretended that this was the first 
she had heard about it brought forward " a hundred 
arguments " to persuade her to consider it in a favourable 
light. She concluded by saying, " in a tone of most 
sincere friendship," that, if Madame R6camier would apply 
for the post of dame du palais, she would endeavour to get 



her into her own service, as Napoleon had placed the 
establishments of his sisters on the same footing as that of 
the Empress. In this way, she added, she would be able 
to screen her from the jealousy of Josephine, whose sus- 
picions might be aroused if so beautiful a lady of honour 
was placed about her own person. 

Madame Rcamier, although now more than ever 
determined that nothing should induce her to consent to 
such an arrangement, thought it best to temporise, and, 
therefore, promised to give the matter further considera- 
tion, with which the princess and Fouche were fain to be 
content. As she was leaving, the former, remembering 
that her friend had always expressed great admiration for 
Talma's acting, offered her the use of her own box at the 
Theatre Fran^ais, which was on the grand tier, exactly 
opposite to that of the Emperor, whenever she cared to 
avail herself of it ; and, next day, the following note was 
forwarded to the management of the theatre : 

"NEUILLY, October 14. 

" Her Royal Highness, the Princess Caroline, informs 
the management of the Theatre Francois that, from this 
date until a new order be issued, her box is to be open to 
Madame Rcamier, to those who accompany her, or to 
those to whom she may give permission. Persons 
belonging to the household of the Princess, unless 
admitted or expressly named by Madame R6camier, cease 
from this moment to have the right of presenting them- 

" The Secretary of Orders to the Princess Caroline? 

Madame R6camier only made use of the box twice. 



On both occasions it happened, either by accident or 
intention, that the Emperor was also present, and levelled 
his lorgnettes so persistently at the lady opposite, that it 
was rumoured among the courtiers, always on the watch 
to note their master's slightest movement, that the 
banker's beautiful wife was on the road to high favour. 

Meanwhile Fouch6 continued his negotiations, and one 
day came to Clichy in high spirits, and, taking Madame 
Rcamier on one side, said, with a triumphant chuckle : 

" You can no longer refuse ; it is not I now, but the 
Emperor himself who offers you the post of dame du 
palais, and I am commissioned to offer it in his 


So little did Fouche imagine the possibility of a refusal, 
that he walked away to join the rest of the company 
without even waiting for a reply. 

It was now no longer possible for Madame Rcamier to 
avoid giving a definite answer ; and so, when her husband 
came to Clichy to dine that evening, she informed him of 
the offer that had been made her, and of her great 
reluctance to accept it. 

The banker fully sympathised with her feelings in the 
matter, and left her free to act as she thought best ; and, 
accordingly, the next time Fouche presented himself at 
Clichy, she told him, courteously yet firmly, that she had 
finally decided to decline the honour the Emperor wished 
to confer upon her. 

The Police Minister was furious, and, carried away by 
his indignation, broke out into a storm of reproaches 
against Madame R6camier's friends, especially Mathieu 
de Montmorency, whom he accused of having " prepared 
this insult for the Emperor." He indulged in a violent 
tirade against the old nobility, to whom he said the 



Emperor showed a fatal indulgence, and left Clichy 
Bowing vengeance. 

Madame Recamier was soon to discover what this 
refusal was to cost her. One Saturday, in the autumn of 
the following year, Jacques Recamier came to his wife, 
looking very much disturbed. He told her that his bank 
had lately become involved in a series of misfortunes 
owing to the financial panic in Spain ; and now things 
had come to such a pass that, unless, by the following 
Monday, he could obtain from the Bank of France the 
accommodation for which he had that day applied, he 
would be compelled to suspend payment. The sum he 
required to tide over his difficulties was a comparatively 
small one a million francs (,40,000) and, as he had 
ample security to offer, and the Bank of France had lately 
shown itself desirous of doing everything in its power to 
re-establish public credit, he had little fear of his appli- 
cation being refused. Still he could not help feeling 
extremely anxious ; and begged Madame Recamier to do 
all the honours of their usual Sunday dinner-party, which 
it was impossible to countermand at so short a notice 
without exciting suspicion, as he himself felt that he would 
be unable to summon up sufficient courage to be present. 
He would go into the country until he got his answer on 
the Monday. 

Such a revelation was, naturally, a great shock to the 
young wife, accustomed from childhood to a life of ease 
and luxury, whose every whim it had been the delight of 
her husband to gratify as soon as expressed, and who had 
never been permitted to trouble her pretty head about 
money matters. But she did her utmost to cheer her 
disconsolate spouse ; and, on the following evening, when 
her guests arrived, they found her as lovely and smiling 



as ever, and no one would have suspected the terrible 
effort that it cost their hostess to preserve her composure, 
or the ruin which menaced the house where they were 
being so hospitably entertained. 

A few hours later her worst fears were realised. The 
all-important loan was harshly refused, and, on the same 
day, R6camier's bank stopped payment. 

The sensation caused by this catastrophe was immense, 
for the bank was one of the wealthiest in France, and 
many smaller houses, both in Paris and in the provinces, 
were involved in its fall. In financial circles general 
astonishment was expressed at the refusal of the Govern- 
ment to assist Recamier, and thus prevent what they well 
knew must cause widespread disaster. There can be little 
doubt, however, that Napoleon, who manipulated banks 
and bourses as readily as he did armies and navies, was 
responsible for this otherwise unaccountable action on the 
part of the authorities of the Bank of France. 

Madame Recamier, aware that she herself was indirectly 
the cause of her husband's failure, bore this terrible 
reverse of fortune without a murmur, and while Jacques 
Recamier voluntarily surrendered everything to his 
creditors, who, as a proof of their esteem and confidence, 
nominated him head of the liquidators of the bank, she 
parted with her jewellery to the last trinket. The splendid 
house in the Rue du Mont Blanc was at once advertised 
for sale, but as a purchaser for so valuable a property was 
not immediately forthcoming, Madame Recamier gave up 
her own apartments, which were let furnished to Prince 
Pignatelli, reserving for herself only a small drawing- 
room on the ground floor, the windows of which opened 
on to the garden. The house was finally sold, two 
years later, to M. Mosselman, the banker, in whose 



counting-house the famous strategist Jomini was at one 
time a clerk. 

The following letter, addressed to her old friend Camille 
Jordan, will show with what fortitude Madame R6camier 
endured a misfortune which would have utterly crushed 
most women : 

"DEAR CAMILLE, Your letter has come as a very 
charming consolation to me in the midst of my troubles. 
I have read it to M. Rcamier, who has been much 
touched by the kindly interest you take in us. The 
affection of my friends sustains my courage. Although 
my misfortune was a totally unexpected one, I am quite 
resigned to my fate ; and I have had the happiness of 
being able by my care and attention to soften the grief of 
my husband and family. And, besides, dear Camille, ought 
not I to thank God that in keeping in store for me such 
bitter calamities, He has given me friends to enable me to 
support them ? . . . " J. R." 

The attentions which Madame Recamier received at this 
time of unmerited misfortune were highly creditable to 
French society. She was the object of universal sympathy 
and respect ; her door was simply besieged with callers, 
and she became, if it were possible, an even greater object 
of admiration than she had been before. " They would 
not have shown so much respect to the widow of a marshal 
of France killed on the field of battle ! " Napoleon sarcas- 
tically observed, when Junot, Due d'Abrantes, joined him 
in Germany, full of the catastrophe which was the talk of 
Paris, and the widespread interest the innocent victim of 
it was arousing. 

Madame de Stael wrote to her friend a letter full of 
womanly sympathy : 



"GENEVA, November 17, 1806. 

" Ah, my dear Juliette, what grief have I experienced 
at the dreadful news which I have received ! How I curse 
my exile which prevents me from being near you and 
pressing you to my heart ! 

" You have lost all that pertains to the ease and luxury 
of life ; but, were such a thing possible, you arc more 
beloved and more interesting than you were before this 
misfortune overtook you. I am going to write to M. 
Rcamier, who has my sympathy and respect. But tell 
me, will my hope of seeing you here this winter be only a 
dream ? If you would care to pass three months in a circle 
where you would be fondly cared for. . . . But in Paris 
also you inspire this same feeling. Still, at least, I will go 
to Lyons, or as near as my forty leagues will allow me, to 
behold you, to embrace you, and to tell you that I love 
you more tenderly than any woman I have ever known. 
I have nothing to say to you by way of consolation, unless 
it is to assure you that you will be more beloved and 
honoured than ever ; and that those admirable character- 
istics of yours generosity and kind-heartedness will, in 
spite of yourself, become known through these misfortunes 
as they never would have been without them. 

" Certainly, in comparing your present position with 
what it was, you are a loser ; but, if it were possible for 
me to envy any one whom I love, I would gladly give 
all I have to be you. Beauty without an equal in Europe, 
reputation without a stain, a proud and generous heart 
what a wealth of happiness still left in this sad world 
through which one passes bereft of so much one values ! 
Dear Juliette, let our friendship become a closer one. 
Let it be no longer simple, generous services that have all 
come from you, but a regular correspondence, a reciprocal 



need of confidence, a life together. Dear Juliette, it is 
you who will be the means of my returning to Paris 
for you will always be an all-powerful person, and, as you 
are younger than I am, you will close my eyes, and my 
children will be your friends. My daughter has mingled 
her tears with yours and mine this morning. Dear Juliette, 
we have enjoyed the luxury which surrounded you ; your 
fortune has been ours, and I feel myself ruined since you 
are no longer rich. Believe me, there is still happiness 
left when one knows oneself to be beloved. Benjamin 1 
wishes to write to you ; he is deeply moved. Mathieu 2 
has written me a very touching letter about you. Dear 
friend, let your heart be at ease in the midst of these 
misfortunes. Alas ! neither death nor the indifference of 
friends threaten you, and those are incurable wounds. 
Adieu, dear angel, adieu ! With reverence do I kiss your 
lovely face. 


Bernadotte, who was with the army in North Germany, 
also wrote to offer his condolence. 

" A sprain of my right hand at first prevented me from 
replying to your letter. Scarcely had I recovered the 
use of it when operations recommenced, and I was struck 
on the head by a bullet. This wound has kept me in 
bed for a month. 

" I am far from deserving your reproaches, as General 
Junot will, perhaps, bear witness. I heard through hin? 
of the beginning of your troubles, the evening before 
Austerlitz. 3 1 left him, at eleven o'clock at night, with 

1 Benjamin Constant. * Mathieu de Montmorency. 

1 This must have been a slip of the pen. It was Auersudt that the 
marshal meant. Austerlitz was fought in the previous year. 



the assurance that I was going to write to you on my 
return to my tent ; and he charged me with a thousand 
messages. My head and heart were full of your affairs, 
and I described to you all the pain which your reverse of 
fortune occasioned me. While I was writing and thinking 
of you, the thought occurred to me that, at dawn of day, 
I was to aid in deciding the fate of the world. When 
friendship, tenderness, and sympathy excite a loving heart, 
it feels deeply all that it expresses. Since then I have not 
ceased to give you my prayers and best wishes ; but, 
although fated to love you for ever, I dared not run the 
risk of wearying you with my letters. Adieu ! If you 
still think of me, believe that you are my chief thought, 
and that nothing equals the sweet and tender friendship I 
entertain for you." 

The kindness and sympathy she met with on every side 
were, of course, very gratifying to Madame Rcamier, but 
unfortunately money made all the difference, and without 
money she was well aware that, although she might retain 
her friends, she could no longer continue to lead society. 


Coppet Sainte-Beuve's description of it Madame Re'camier 
visits Madame de Stal Prince Augustus of Prussia He falls 
in love with Madame Recamier He tries to induce her to 
obtain a divorce Her letter to her husband His reply 
Madame Recamier returns to Paris Prince Augustus's letters 
She refuses to marry him Her rendezvous with him at 
Schaffhausen Meets him again in 1814 She gives him her 
portrait by Gerard His letter to her before his death 
Madame Recamier's conduct considered She visits Madame 
de Stael at Chaumont and Fosse La petite poste Madame de 
Stael's visit to the theatre at Blois " Surrounded by a 
Court" Publication and suppression of De V Allemagne 
Madame de Stael is banished from France Her despair 

THE traveller in Switzerland, passing along Lake Leman 
that lovely lake immortalised by Byron from Lausanne 
to Geneva, sees, on its north-western shore, a little village, 
all the habitations of which seem to nestle to a central 
stately structure. The village is Coppet, and the central 
edifice the Chateau de Necker, once the home of Madame 
de Stael. 

"What Ferney was to Voltaire," says Sainte-Beuve, 
" Coppet was to Madame de Stael, but with a much more 
poetic halo around it, and with a nobler life. Both reigned 
in their exile, but Coppet has counteracted and almost 
dethroned Ferney. We of the present generation rank 

Icrney below Coppet. The beauty of the site, the woods 


which shade it, the sex of the poet, the enthusiasm that 
we breathe there, the elegance of the company, the glory 
of their names, the rambles by the lake, the mornings in 
the park, the passions and the mysteries that we may 
suppose inevitable there, all combine to enchant our con- 
ception of this abode. Coppet is the Elysium with which 
all the soul-children of Jean-Jacques would fain endow the 
lady of their dreams." l 

It was, at once, a refuge for the persecuted and an 
intellectual centre, where proscribed politicians and dis- 
tinguished men of letters from all parts of Europe came 
to pay homage to the foremost woman of her time. 
There were often as many as thirty people in the house, 
including strangers and friends. The most frequent 
visitors were Benjamin Constant, August Wilhelm von 
Schlegel, Comte Sabran, Simonde de Sismondi, the 
historian, Bonstetten of Geneva, Prosper de Barantc, and 
Mathieu de Montmorency. Discussions on a variety of 
subjects, literary, philosophical, and political, began at 
eleven o'clock in the morning, the hour when the 
company assembled for breakfast, were resumed at 
dinner, or in the interval between dinner and supper, 
and continued until midnight. Famous authors read 
chapters from their manuscript works, poets recited their 
masterpieces, and tragedies and comedies, often written 
for the occasion by Madame de Stael or one of her friends, 
were performed by the house-party. 

It was to this charming mansion that, in the summer of 
1807, Madame Rcamier, who had recently suffered a 
severe blow though the death of her mother Madame 
Bernard, from whom she had never been separated since 
childhood, came in response to a warm invitation from its 

1 Critiques tt Portraits litteraircs, iii. 342. 


illustrious chatelaine, in search of the rest and change she 
so much needed ; and it was here that she was destined to 
meet with a most romantic adventure. 

It happened that, at the time of her visit, the mistress of 
Coppet had extended her hospitality to another victim of 
misfortune Prince Augustus of Prussia, the nephew of 
Frederick the Great, a handsome and chivalrous young 
man of four-and-twenty, who had been taken prisoner at 
the battle of Saalfeld, where his brother Louis had 
been killed, and was now held as a kind of hostage by 

The prince's heroism on that fatal field, his intense 
grief for the death of his brother, to whom he had been 
devotedly attached, and the misfortunes of his country all 
combined to surround him in Madame Rcamier's eyes 
with a halo of romance. The prince, on his part, fell 
desperately in love with the beautiful Parisian, and, in spite 
of the difficulties which his high rank naturally suggested, 
conceived the project of inducing her to divorce her 
husband and to marry him. He took his hostess into his 
confidence, and that lady, whose poetical imagination 
prompted her to favour a scheme that was calculated to 
diffuse a sort of romantic interest over Coppet, readily 
promised him her support. 

To our modern ideas such a proposal seems both 
repulsive and preposterous, more especially as Madame 
Recamier had no cause for complaint against her husband, 
but at the time of which we are writing it would be regarded 
very differently. In Prussia divorce was authorised both by 
the ecclesiastical and the canon law, and, at the beginning of 
ie nineteenth century, custom had made it so common 
in Germany, upon grounds of complaint quite independent 
>f moral conduct, that no obloquy whatever attached to 

81 w 


it. There was nothing, therefore, very extraordinary in 
Prince Augustus venturing to hope that Madame Recamier 
would be willing to comply with his wishes, as Madame 
de Stael had probably told him the strange story that was 
current. Moreover, as we have said, the tie which bound 
Madame Recamier to her husband was a purely nominal 
one, and one which the Catholic Church itself pronounces 
void ; and so, either because she returned, in some 
measure at least, the prince's ardent affection, or, more 
probably, because she was tempted by the brilliant prospect 
held out to her, she yielded to his entreaties so far as to 
consent to write to her husband, asking him to release her. 

Jacques Recamier replied that he would set her free if 
such was really her wish ; but, at the same time, he begged 
leave to remind her of the care and affection he had always 
lavished upon her, and pointed out the bitter grief such 
an estrangement would be to him. 

This tender and dignified letter made a great impression 
on Madame Recamier, and filled her with remorse and 
compassion. She pictured to herself the indulgent com- 
panion of her girlhood who, with all his faults, had been 
the kindest and most generous of husbands stripped of 
the great fortune with which it had been his delight to 
gratify her every whim, old and lonely. To abandon 
him under such circumstances seemed impossible, and, 
accordingly, though not without some regrets for the 
great position she was relinquishing, she decided to 
decline the prince's offer. She went back to Paris at the 
end of the autumn with her mind made up, but without 
informing her royal adorer, who had shortly before the 
receipt of her husband's letter returned to Berlin, of the 
futility of his hopes, relying upon time and absence to 
soften his disappointment. 



Meanwhile, the lovelorn prince, in blissful ignorance 
of her decision, was endeavouring to obtain his family's 
consent to the marriage, and frequent letters reminded 
his beloved Juliette of her promise, and painted in glowing 
terms the golden future which he was so eagerly antici- 

" I hope," he writes, " that you have already received 
my letter, No. 31, wherein I could but feebly express the 
happiness which yours has given me : but, still, it will 
convey to you some idea of the emotion which I felt at 
receiving it and your portrait. I gazed for hours on this 
enchanting portrait, and dreamed of a happiness that must 
surpass all the delights that the imagination can offer. 
What fate can be comparable to that of the man you 
love ! " 

It was a task of no little difficulty for a Prussian prince 
to carry on a correspondence with a lady who was the 
object of Napoleon's resentment, and therefore certain to 
be to some extent under police surveillance, without ex- 
citing the suspicions of Fouche's myrmidons, and conse- 
quently incurring the displeasure of the Emperor. We, 
therefore, find him taking every precaution when writing 
to conceal his identity. Thus he alludes to the King of 
Prussia as " my relative " or " my cousin " ; to the Queen 
as " my cousin's wife," and to the Prussian Government 
as " our firm." In a letter announcing the appointment 
of Hardenberg as Prime Minister, he says, " Some advan- 
tageous changes have been made in our firm lately ; we 
have secured an excellent head clerk, but the good results 
we expect from this are still distant." 

The prince was, of course, impatient to once more behold 
his enchantress ; but the King of Prussia, fearing that, if 
young cousin set foot on French territory, he would 



be arrested, absolutely forbade him to cross the frontier, 
and an attack of small-pox, which nearly proved fatal, 
put an end to the prosecution of his suit for a time at 

Madame Rcamier, on her side, now that she was no 
longer under the influence of Coppet and its romantic 
surroundings, became convinced of the wisdom of her 
decision. The religious scruples, which the prince's 
arguments had never quite silenced, even when supported 
by his handsome presence, were strengthened by reflection; 
she shrank, too, from the scandal of a divorce, while the 
thought of quitting her beloved Paris was repugnant to 
her. She therefore wrote the prince a letter intended to 
show him that his hopes were vain. 

" J'ai ete frappt de la foudre en recevant votre lettre" 
the poor young man replies ; but he did not accept his 
dismissal at least he insisted on seeing her once more. 
Madame R6camier, however, refused to grant even this 
request until the autumn of 1 8 1 1 , when she consented to 
meet her adorer at Schaffhausen. 

The infatuated prince at once set out for Switzerland, 
without even waiting to obtain leave of absence from his 
military duties, but the lady chose to exercise the feminine 
prerogative of changing her mind, and did not keep the 
appointment. The prince was deeply mortified at her 
treatment of him. "At last I hope I am cured of a 
foolish passion that I have cherished for four years," he 
writes to his friend and confidante Madame de Stael. 
To Madame Recamier he writes more in sorrow than in 



" SCHAFFHAUSEN, October l8ll. 

" You have cruelly disappointed me. What I cannot 
understand is that not being able or not wishing to see 
me, you did not condescend to tell me so, and spare me a 
useless journey of three hundred leagues. I leave to- 
morrow for the high mountains of the Oberland and the 
Petits Cantons. The wild nature of these districts will be 
in harmony with the sadness of my thoughts, of which 
you are the object. If, at last, you deign to reply to my 
letter, please write to the city where I usually live, and to 
which I intend to return before long." 

In spite of this rebuff, Prince Augustus continued to 
correspond with Madame Rcamier until they met again, 
in 1814, when he entered Paris with the allied armies. 
He was then in command of the Prussian artillery, and 
before reaching the city besieged successively Maubeuge, 
Landrecies, Phillipeville, Givet, and Longevy. From each 
of these places he wrote to Madame Rcamier, showing 
how eagerly he was looking forward to their reunion. 

" To-morrow," he writes, " I open the trenches round 
Maubeuge, and in eighteen days I shall reduce it, even 
supposing the defence obstinate. The desire of beholding 
you once more will be a very powerful incentive to me to 
push on the siege." 

The friendship between the prince and Madame Recamicr 
was renewed, but, though his admiration for her was as 
great as ever, nothing more was said about a divorce ; 
indeed, the former appears to have already sought con- 
solation for his disappointment in a kind of left-handed 
marriage, the result of which two daughters were in 
after years well known in Berlin and Paris society, and on 


intimate terms with their royal father's first love. In 
1818, however, the prince commissioned Gerard to paint 
the picture of " Corinne," which he presented to 
Madame Recamier, "as an immortal souvenir of the 
passion with which she had inspired him, and of the 
glorious friendship which united Corinne and Juliette." 
In exchange for this picture, Madame Recamier sent him 
the famous portrait of herself by the same painter. The 
prince had it hung in the gallery of his house in Berlin, 
but after his death, which occurred in 1845, it was by 
the terms of his will returned to the donor. 

Some months before that event, when, although at the 
time in perfect health, he seems to have had some pre- 
sentiment of his approaching end, he wrote to Madame 
Recamier a touching letter, in which he declares that " the 
ring which she had given him he would wear to his 
grave"; and there can be little doubt that, notwithstanding 
her refusal to bear his name, she always remained mistress 
of his heart. 

It cannot be denied that in this affair with Prince 
Augustus Madame Recamier comes before us in a very 
unfavourable light ; and it is significant that her niece, 
Madame Lenormant, usually so ready to explain away any 
circumstance which casts the least reflection upon her aunt, 
has practically nothing to say in exoneration of her con- 
duct, but takes refuge in a judicious silence. Much, how- 
ever, may be forgiven a woman so peculiarly situated as 
was Madame Recamier ; and it is quite conceivable that 
at the time she wrote the letter to her husband asking 
him to release her from her marriage vows, she really 
believed that he would welcome the severance of a tie 
which must have been a very considerable strain on his 
then limited resources. 



On the other hand, nothing can possibly condone the 
fact that for many months after she had apparently made 
up her mind to reject the prince's offer, she continued to 
keep him in suspense, unless, as one of her contemporaries 
suggests, she had reason to imagine that he was not quite 
so faithful to her as the ardent tone of his letters would 
lead one to suppose. 

Madame Rcamier passed the years 1808 and 1809 
partly in Paris, and partly at Coppet and Angervilliers, 
where her friend Madame de Catellan Jived. Madame de 
Stael was at this time engaged upon her great work, 
De V Allemagne^ and did not leave Coppet during that 
time. She was very fond of music and the drama, and 
often organised amateur theatricals among her guests, as a 
relaxation from her literary labours. Pictet de Sergy 
speaks highly of her acting, and declares that she was 
admirable both in comedy and tragedy. 

" The great hall of the rez-de-chaussee of the chateau 
was," he writes, " converted into a complete and perma- 
nent theatre ; and there she and her friends acted not 
merely comedy, but frequently tragedy. The Marquis 
de Sabran, being of diminutive stature, appeared nearly 
crushed under the helmet of Pyrrhus; Madame Rcamier 
represented Andromache, while Madame de Stael person- 
ated with marvellous effect Hermione. From time to 
time Madame de Stael left her feudal home, and trans- 
ported all her noble cortege to Geneva, where they gave 
representations in the great building called the Douane^ on 
the Place du Molard. All the best society in the city 
came down from the Rue des Granges or the Taconnerie 
into this large hall of the common people a place which 
they seldom condescended to visit, especially at night 



borne thither by an irresistible curiosity. There I still see 
Madame de Stael imposing and terrible in the role of 
Phaedra, and Benjamin Constant, but not, as they have 
lately reported him, personating Hippolytus in blue 
spectacles which he absolutely refused to lay aside. The 
Genevese were enthusiastically grateful to Madame de 
Stael for her kindness in bringing among them her actors 
and theatrical properties. I agree with her cousin that in 
tragedy she produced truly great effects." 

While Madame Recamier was at Coppet, in the autumn 
of 1 809, Racine's .Phedre was performed. Madame v de 
Stael played the title-role, while Madame Recamier took 
the part of Aricie. The classical costume was, of course, 
admirably adapted to her style of beauty, and she was 
pronounced a great success, in spite of her almost painful 

The following summer Madame de Stael came as near 
Paris as her forty leagues would allow her in order to 
superintend the printing of De L? Allemagne, which was to 
appear in three volumes. She took up her residence at 
the old chateau of Chaumont-sur-Loire, near Blois, where 
Cardinal d'Amboise, Diana of Poictiers, and Catharine de 
Medicis had formerly lived. The present owner of that 
historic mansion, a M. Le Ray, a personal friend of 
Madame de Stael, was at this time with his family in 

Madame Rcamier, in response to a letter from her 
friend, inviting her to the chateau of Catharine de Medicis, 
4< who did more harm in the world than you have done," 
joined her there on her way back from the baths at Aix 
towards the end of the summer, and found herself one of 
a large house-party, including Adrien and Mathieu de 
Montmorency, Prosper de Barante, August Wilhelm von 



Schlegel, Comte de Sabran, and Benjamin Constant. 
Soon after her arrival, however, the owner of the chateau 
and his family returned unexpectedly from America, 
whereupon Madame de Stael and her guests removed to 
a farmhouse called Fosse", which had been placed at their 
disposal by a M. de Salaberry, an old officer of the Ven- 
dean wars. 

M. de Salaberry had hitherto led a very lonely life, and 
was regarded by his neighbours as a hermit. Madame de 
Stael and her party, however, were nearly all musical ; one 
had brought a guitar and another a harp ; and on the 
evening of their arrival organised a kind of impromptu 
concert. So astonished were the neighbouring peasants at 
hearing such unusual sounds that they came flocking to 
the house to find out what it could all mean ; and, while 
Madame Rcamier was singing, she suddenly made the 
discovery that a large and appreciative audience had 
gathered on the lawn outside the house. 

It was during her visit to Fosse" that she and Madame 
de Stael invented a new form of amusement, which 
subsequently became quite fashionable, called la petite 
poste. After dinner the company used to gather round 
a table covered with a green cloth, and write little notes 
to one another. One day a gentleman of the neighbour- 
hood, who had never given a thought in his life to 
anything beyond hunting and shooting, called to take 
Madame de StaeTs sons into the woods with him, and was 
shown into the room where the whole house-party was 
seated round the table intent on their new diversion. For 
some minutes he regarded them with amazement, trying 
vainly to comprehend what this busy but silent company 
could be doing. Then Madame Rcamier, in order to 
put the visitor at his ease, wrote him with her pretty hand 



a charming little note. But the sportsman, fearing she 
wished to make fun of him, excused himself from 
receiving it, on the plea that he could not read writing 
except by candle-light. " We laughed a little," says 
Madame de Stael, " at the rebuff which the benevolent 
coquetry of our beautiful friend had received, and thought 
that a note from her hand would not always have met 
with the same fate." 1 

But even this harmless party was soon to be broken up 
by the malice of Napoleon. Madame de Stael had a most 
fatal celebrity. At that time the opera of Cinderella was 
creating a perfect furore in Paris. A provincial company 
gave a representation of it at the little theatre at Blois, and 
Madame de Stael went to see it. On leaving the theatre 
at the conclusion of the performance, she was followed by 
a crowd of curious people, anxious to get a view of the 
celebrated exile. The stupid police immediately informed 
the authorities in Paris that she went about " surrounded 
by a Court." 

. Shortly after this incident, she finished correcting the 
last proofs of De L'Allemagne, the composition of which 
had occupied her nearly six years, and was in high spirits 
at the thought of its appearance. The book had passed 
with a few alterations through the hands of the public 
censor ; she had made all arrangements with a publisher 
in Paris ; its popularity was expected to be so great that 
ten thousand copies had been printed for a first edition ; 
everything seemed to be going on smoothly, when her 
implacable enemy again pounced down upon her ; the 
whole of the edition was confiscated and destroyed by the 
police ; the Prefect of Loire-et-Cher came to Fosse to 
require her to deliver up the manuscript, though, fortu- 

1 Madame de StaeTs Dix Annets d'Exil, p. 224. 


nately, he was satisfied with a rough copy ; and, to put the 
comble upon all, the authoress was ordered to leave France 
in three days for ever. 

Utterly prostrated by this double blow, the unfortunate 
woman returned to Coppet Coppet the home of romance, 
the haunt of genius, where every luxury which money 
could procure was at her command, but which this true 
daughter of Paris would willingly have exchanged for a 
garret in the Rue du Bac. Before leaving Fosse, however, 
she wrote to Madame Recamier, whose turn it now was 
to play the part of comforter. 


"DEAR FRIEND, I have fallen into a state of frightful 
melancholy. I am in utter despair at the thought of my 
approaching departure, and, for the first time, I realise all 
the misery of a condition which I fondly imagined would 
be easy to bear. I counted also on the success of my 
book to sustain me, and, now, here are six years of labour, 
study, and travel almost entirely wasted. Do you fully 
comprehend the singularity of this affair ? It is the first 
two volumes, already approved by the censor, that have 
been seized, and M. Portalis * knows no more than I do 
what all this means. So I am exiled because I have 
written a book which has been approved by the Emperor's 
censors. Nor is this all. I could have printed my book 
in Germany. I came of my own free will to submit it to 
the censorship, under the impression that, if it came to 
the worst, they would only prohibit the work. But can 
people be punished who come voluntarily to submit to 
their judges? Dear friend, there is Mathieu, 2 the friend 

1 The Censor. Mathieu de Montmorency. 



of twenty years, and I must leave him. And you, dear 
angel, who have loved me on account of my misfortunes, 
who have only known me during the period of my 
adversity, who render life so sweet I must leave you 
also. Ah, mon Dieu ! I am the Orestes of exile, and 
fate pursues me ! But God's will must be done, and I trust 
that He will sustain me. For the last time I am listening 
to that music of Pertozza that recalls your sweet face, 
that charm which you possess apart from your beauty, 
and so many of the pure and tranquil pleasures of this 
summer. For the last time I press you once again to my 
heart, and then the unknown future begins. I will 
summon all my courage ; but thus to die to all one's 
memories, to all one's affections, this is a terrible effort. 

" I am encompassed by such a cloud of sorrow that I 
know not what I write. ... I dare not finish. I should 
be tempted to say, like M. Dubreuil to Pechmeja, * My 
friend, thou above all shouldst be here.' " 


Bernadotte becomes Crown-Prince of Sweden His letter to 
Madame Recamier Royal admirers Ludwig, Crown Prince 
of Bavaria George, Grand-Duke of Mecklenburg-Strelitz 
His adventure with Madame Re*camier's concierge His letter 
to her in 1845 Animosity of Napoleon against Madame 
Re*camier The Government persecute Madame de Stael 
She resolves to fly to Sweden Madame Recamier determines 
to go to Coppet Her friends endeavour to dissuade her 
Mathieu de Montmorency is exiled Madame Recamier 
arrives at Coppet Madame Recamier is exiled from Paris 
She goes to Chalons Monotony of her life there Letter 
from Madame de Stael Madame Recamier removes to Lyons 
The Duchesse de Chevreuse Her harsh treatment by 
Napoleon The Duchesse de Luynes Her skill as a com- 
positor Simon Ballanche His ugliness His devotion to 
Madame Recamier Annoyances to which Madame Recamier 
is subjected as an exile A pressing invitation Extraordinary 
conduct of her host His subsequent explanations Visit 
from the Duchesse d'Abrantes Anecdote of Talma and the 
Bishop of Troyes Mathieu de Montmorency comes to Lyons 
Madame Recamier starts for Italy 

WHILE Madame Recamier was with Madame de Stael at 
Fosse, her friend Marshal Bernadotte, since 1806 Prince 
de Ponte-Corvo, was unanimously elected heir to the 
childless Charles XIII. by the Swedish Diet, who hoped 
by so doing to propitiate Napoleon and preserve the 
lependence of their country. At the beginning of 



October he set out for Stockholm, whence he wrote to 
Madame Recamier to bid her farewell. 


"STOCKHOLM, December 22, 1810. 

"MADAME, On leaving France for ever, I am filled 
with regret that your absence from Paris has deprived me 
of the pleasure of receiving your commands and bidding 
you farewell. You were engaged in consoling a friend for 
an approaching and, doubtless, life-long separation ; and I 
felt constrained to postpone writing to you until some 
future date. M. de Czernicheff has kindly undertaken to 
convey to you my respects. We have long talks about 
you, your estimable qualities, and the tender interest you 
inspire in all who approach you. Adieu, madame, pray 
receive the assurance of the affection which I have always 
professed for you, and which neither time nor the ice of the 
north can extinguish. 


Some time before this Madame Recamier had made the 
acquaintance of two other royal personages, Ludwig, 
Prince-Royal afterwards King of Bavaria and George, 
Grand-Duke of Mecklenburg-Strelitz. The former, who 
is now, probably, best remembered through his infatuation 
for the notorious adventuress Lola Montez an infatuation 
which ultimately cost him his throne came to Paris in the 
winter of 1808, and was extremely anxious to be presented 
to the celebrated beauty of whom he had heard so much. 
Madame Recamier, however, knowing that the Emperor 
still regarded her salon and its habitues with anything but 
a friendly eye, and unwilling to get the young prince into 
trouble, declined to receive him ; and the latter, therefore, 



had recourse to the intervention of a friend, who, aware of 
the royal visitor's artistic tastes, wrote to Madame Rcamier 
the following diplomatic epistle : 


" The Prince of Bavaria is extremely anxious, madame, 
to carry away with him a correct impression of the lady 
whom he has so long desired to know, and M. de Bondy 
has been charged by His Royal Highness to ask your 
permission to call at your house to see your portrait. M. de 
Bondy would have asked your consent himself, but he has 
been obliged to accompany the Prince to St. Cloud. He 
has therefore commissioned me to make the request. This 
time it is an official demand and no longer a favour. M. de 
Bondy trusts that you will not refuse to the Prince the 
privilege of admiring the chef cTceuvre of Ge*rard, which you 
have accorded to many persons ; and, if you will permit 
him, he will accompany His Highness to your house either 
on Saturday or Monday morning, whichever you prefer ; 
or on any other day convenient to you. Should you be so 
ill-natured as to go out precisely at the hour appointed, 
the Prince may conclude that, if report has not deceived 
him in regard to the charm of your appearance, it has 
exaggerated the affability of your manners ; and I do not 
think that the sight of your picture will diminish his 
regret at not making the acquaintance of the original. 
But this is not my business : I am only commissioned to 
plead for the amateur in art. I await your reply with 
impatience, and will hand it to M. de Bondy on his return 
from St. Cloud. 

" Believe me, madame, very sincerely yours, 



After this letter, of course, Madame Recamier had no 
alternative but to receive the prince, of whom she formed 
a favourable impression, as did Madame de Stae'l, who 
describes him in one of her letters as " un bon homme qui 
a de 1'esprit et de Tame" ; but she does not appear to have 
admitted him to the same degree of intimacy which she 
accorded to the Grand-Duke of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, who 
visited Paris about the same time. 

Madame R6camier made the duke's acquaintance at a 
bal-masque at the Opera, and, after talking to her for the 
greater part of the evening, he begged permission to call 
upon her. She refused to allow him to do so, however, 
for the same reason which had prompted her to decline 
the proffered friendship of the Prince of Bavaria the fear 
of compromising him with the Emperor, whom he had 
come to Paris on purpose to propitiate. Undeterred by 
her refusal, the young man wrote begging her to reconsider 
her decision, and, at length, flattered by his persistence, 
she consented, and named an evening when she received 
only her most intimate friends, and there would be little 
chance of any one reporting his visit to Napoleon. 

The grand-duke arrived at the appointed hour, and, to 
avoid recognition, left his carriage at some distance from 
the house, and proceeded thither on foot. Finding the 
door open, he attempted to glide past the porter's lodge 
without being seen ; but the concierge was on the alert, 
and the grand-duke had not gone far before he heard a 
gruff voice calling out to him to stop. Unwilling to be 
known even to the porter, he paid no attention, but 
quickened his pace. The porter, his suspicions aroused, 
followed. The grand-duke began to run. The concierge, 
now fully convinced that the intruder was a thief, ran 
after him. The grand-duke reached the main staircase, 



and rushed up ; but his pursuer was too quick for him. 
Before he reached the salon door, the enraged concierge 
seized him by the collar ; and the unfortunate young man 
was being very roughly handled when Madame Rcamier, 
hearing the noise of the scuffle, came out to see what was 
the matter, and released her royal visitor. 

The grand-duke visited Madame R6camier again on 
several occasions, and wrote to her frequently gracefully 
worded little notes : 

" May I dare ? Will you be so kind and generous ? 
May I venture to come again to-morrow at the same 
time ? I make this request with diffidence ; but if you 
knew how strong is my feeling, and how much it has cost 
me to keep away, perhaps, you will not only pardon me, 
but say that my request is justified. I came to this city 
with a heavy heart. My experiences here have been 
painful. Do you wish me to carry away a grief heavier 
to bear than all of them, from having seen an angel with- 
out daring to approach her ? Pray, do not consider me 
deserving of so cruel a fate, and pardon, if you can, my 
apparent presumption. There is no one more capable of 
appreciating you than myself, or of cherishing for you all 
those feelings which you deserve, and which, alas ! you 
will always inspire in every noble and sensitive heart. I 
repeat that I write with diffidence, but not without a ray 
of hope." 

The admiration with which Madame Recamier inspired 
the grand-duke was very far from being a mere passing 
fancy the light offspring of propinquity and youth. 
Thirty-seven years later we find him writing to her from 
Strelitz to beg her to send him the famous portrait of 

I herself by Gerard, which, after the ae-ith of Prince 
Augustus of Prussia, had been returned to the donor. 



" STRELITZ, December I, 1845. 

" MADAME, If I have ever experienced a feeling of 
diffidence it is to-day, when I have resolved not only to 
write but to ask a favour of you ; yes, a great and very 
important favour. When I think of the number of years 
that have elapsed since I have had the happiness of seeing 
you or of hearing from you directly, the step which I am 
about to take seems very much like a rash one. I even 
feel, alas ! that if you were to ask after reading my 
signature, 'Who is this Grand-Duke of Mecklenburg- 
Strelitz ? ' I should have no right to complain. This is 
what reason says to me, but what says the heart ? Shall 
I confess it to you, madame ? It says the contrary. It 
tells me very plainly that the ravishing beauty with which 
nature has endowed you is but the reflection of an adorable 
soul ; and that such a soul cannot forget the person 
whom it at one time deemed worthy of its esteem and 

"Among the precious recollections which I owe to 
you, there is one above all others that the memory never 
ceases to recall with all the charm that attaches to it. It 
is the eminently noble, generous, and amiable manner 
with which you treated me after Napoleon had said 
publicly in the salon of the Empress Josephine, that ' he 
should regard as his personal enemy any foreigner who 
frequented the salon of Madame Rcamier.' I can say 
without exaggeration that I still think of this with emo- 
tion, and that, on my knees, I desire to assure you anew 
of my humble gratitude which will endure for ever. 

"'But what is this favour which you wish to ask 



me ?' I fancy I hear you inquire. It is your portrait, 
madame, that same admirable portrait with which you 
honoured the late Prince Augustus of Prussia, and which 
I understand is to be returned to you. I repeat 
madame, that I make this request with great diffidence ; 
that I should have, perhaps, never have had the courage 
to ask it did I not have it so inexpressibly at heart. But 
if the worship of your memory can give any one the right 
of possessing this treasure, pray believe, at least, that no 
one has a better claim to it than myself. Nor is it I alone 
who would have the right. My wife, my children, all my 
family appreciate you as you deserve. They have listened 
with delight to my reminiscences of you. We all look 
upon you as the embodiment of perfect beauty and perfect 

" I have not the courage to add another word to my 
letter ; but your heart is formed to understand it. 


Madame Re'camier declined to permit so valuable a 
souvenir of herself to pass a second time out of the 
possession of her family, but the grand-duke's letter is 
interesting as evidence that, at the time to which he refers, 
Napoleon, so far from being satisfied with having ruined 
Madame Recamier and her husband, was still further 
incensed against her by the heroic fortitude with which 
she had borne her reverses, and the universal sympathy 
which they had evoked. Moreover, he was compelled 
to admit that, in spite of her changed circumstances, 
Madame Recamier's social influence was practically un- 
ipaired ; and, as he could not endure the idea of a 

:iety which did not derive all its eclat from himself, he 



seems in time to have actually come to regard the poor 
lady with the hatred of a rival. Of this malignity she 
was soon to have a further proof. 

After the sentence which banished her from French 
soil had been passed upon her, Madame de Stael, as we 
have mentioned, had returned to Coppet. From the 
moment she arrived there, " dragging her wing like the 
pigeon in La Fontaine," she was subjected to a series of 
petty persecutions calculated to break the spirit of the 
proudest woman. One prefect of Geneva, M. de Barante, 
treated her with great civility : he was dismissed, and his 
successor immediately went to the other extreme. She 
accompanied her youngest son to Aix in Savoy, where 
the physicians had prescribed for him a course of the 
baths : before she had been there ten days, she received a 
peremptory order to return to Coppet. She consoled her- 
self with the society of Augustus Wilhelm von Schlegel, 
who for the past eight years had been educating her son : 
he was promptly accused of having insulted the French 
nation, inasmuch as, in an essay which he had written, he 
had given preference to the Phaedra of Euripides over 
the Phedre of Racine, and was ordered to leave Geneva. 
At length the poor woman's life became perfectly un- 
endurable, and she determined to leave Coppet, and take 
refuge with her husband's relatives in Sweden. 

On being informed of Madame de StaeTs resolution, 
Madame Recamier at once decided to set out for Coppet 
to bid her talented and unfortunate friend farewell. But, 
in order not to excite the attention of the police, who 
at that time exercised the strictest surveillance over all 
persons suspected of the least hostility to the Government, 
she gave out that her destination was Aix in Savoy, from 
the waters of which she had derived considerable benefit 



the previous summer ; and asked for a passport to that 

The passport was granted, but the object of her journey 
could be easily divined, and she received no lack of 
warnings from her friends. Esmenard, one of the chiefs 
of the Police, and an ardent admirer of Madame Recamier, 
made strenuous efforts to dissuade her from visiting 
Coppet, pointing out that her presence there could be of 
no possible assistance to her friend, while it might entail 
serious consequences to herself, as the Emperor would be 
sure to visit with his displeasure any one who held com- 
munication with a proscribed person, especially one so 
obnoxious to him in every way as was Madame de Stael. 

Madame Recamier, however, ridiculed the suggestion 
that the visit of an innocent woman to an unhappy friend 
on the eve of departure for a distant country could 
possibly be construed into an act of hostility to the 
Government ; and declared that, whatever might be the 
consequences, she could not bring herself to refuse 
Madame de Stael this last proof of affection. Accord- 
ingly, on August 23 she started for Coppet. 

A few days before Madame Recamier left Paris, 
Mathieu de Montmorency arrived at Coppet, also on a 
farewell visit to its chatelaine. The prefect of Geneva at 
once notified the Government of his arrival there, and by 
return of courier Montmorency received an order of exile 
from the Minister of Police. 

Poor Madame de Stael tells us that she "shrieked with 
agony " on learning of the misfortune which she had 
brought upon the kind-hearted Mathieu, and bitterly 
reproached herself with having been the means of separa- 
ting him from his family and friends. While she was in 
lis state, she received a letter from Madame Recamier, 



announcing that she was on her way to Aix, and intended 
breaking the journey at Coppet, where she would arrive 
in two days' time. 

Madame de Stael, fearful lest Montmorency's fate 
should befall her beloved Juliette, at once despatched a 
messenger to intercept her, and implore her not to come 
to Coppet. To drive past Madame de StaeTs windows 
and yet not to see her appeared to Madame Recamier 
altogether out of the question, and it was with tears in 
her eyes that the mistress of Coppet beheld her friend 
enter the house where hitherto her arrival had been so 

Madame Recamier only remained one night at the 
chateau, and then, instead of continuing her journey to 
Aix, set out on her return to Paris. But, brief as had 
been her stay, it had been duly notified to the Govern- 
ment, and, on reaching Dijon, she was met by her 
husband, who informed her that she had been exiled forty- 
leagues from Paris. 

To any one who realises what Paris means to a French- 
woman that to her it is the world without which the rest 
of France is but one huge void will readily understand 
that to a woman like Madame Recamier, who might 
almost be said to live for society, such a sentence was in 
reality worse than complete exile. Like the Peri at the 
gate of Paradise, she might gaze, so to speak, on the joys 
of the blessed, but might not enter to share therein. Nor 
was this all. Under the odious system inaugurated by 
Napoleon, the friend of the exile became as criminal as 
the exile himself, and, thus, Madame Recamier found 
herself cut off not only from Paris, but also from the 
society of all her friends, with the exception of those who 
happened to be in the same unfortunate position as herself. 



Madame Recamier, however, continued her journey to 
Paris, in spite of the prohibition which she had received, 
and took an affectionate farewell of her friends. She pre- 
served the strictest incognito, and saw no one but the 
members of her own family, but the police were far too 
wideawake for her presence to remain long unnoticed, and, 
ere forty-eight hours had passed, her husband received the 
following official communication : 

"PARIS, September 17, 1811. 

" I request you, sir, to inform me, immediately on 
receipt of this, where Madame Recamier is to be found at 
the present moment, that I may execute the order of which 
I gave you notice on the 2nd of this month. 

" Your obedient servant, 


" Councillor of Staff, Prefect of Police, 
" Baron of the Empire" 

After this it was clearly out of the question for Madame 
Recamier to remain any longer in Paris, and, accordingly, 
the following day, she set out for Chalons-sur-Marne, 
accompanied by her little niece, Amelie de Cyvoct, whom 
she had recently adopted. It is to the works of this lady, 
who married, in 1825, M. Charles Lenormant, a distin- 
guished antiquary, that we are indebted for much that we 
know about her celebrated aunt. 1 

Chalons, where Madame Recamier took a suite of 
rooms at the Pomme d'Or, was a dull little country town, 
but it was not without its advantages. In the first place, 

^ Souvenirs et Correspondence tires des papiers de Madame Recamier^ 
Madame Recamier les Amis de sa Jeunesse, and Coppet et Weimar. 
Madame Lenormant also edited Les Lettres <U Benjamin Constant a 
Madame Recamier. 



it was just outside the forty leagues' radius, and not very 
far from the Chateau de Montmirail, the seat of the Due 
dc Doudeauville, who was a great friend of Madame 
Rdcamier, and whose son, Sosthenes de La Rochefoucauld, 
had married Mathieu de Montmorency's daughter, and 
shared that family's devotion to their " amiable amie" In 
the second place, the town was governed by a good- 
natured prefect, who might be inclined to regard the visits 
of Madame Rcamier's friends with an indulgent eye, in 
the absence of any special instructions to the contrary. 

Madame Rcamier, however, did not see much of the 
La Rochefoucaulds, as she was fearful lest they should 
suffer for their kindness to an exile ; but her husband, her 
father, old Simonard, Junot, Due d'Abrantes, Madame de 
Catellan, and several other relatives and friends braved 
the displeasure of the Government and came from Paris to 
see her; while her cousin, Madame de Dalmassy, left 
Switzerland to spend a week at Chalons, and Auguste de 
Stael brought her news of his mother, whom he repre- 
sented as inconsolable at the thought of the persecution 
she had drawn upon her and Mathieu de Montmorency. 

In spite of the kindness of her friends, time hung very 
heavily upon Madame R beamier 's hands, for there was no 
society or public entertainments of any kind at Chalons, 
and the only relief to the monotony of her life was on the 
occasions when she went to the church, where she had 
made friends with the organist, to play the organ at high 
mass. Her love of music, as we have said, was always a 
great consolation to her. 

After she had been about nine months at Chalons, she 
received a letter from Madame de Stael urging her to 
remove to Lyons. " At present," her friend wrote, " I am 
extremely anxious that you should come to Lyons. If I 



take my passage in the frigate, 1 I shall be able to have 
another heart-break in embracing you there. You will be 
on the road to Italy, and you will have friends who are 
not to be despised, for they are very good for the nerves. 
Alas ! generous victim, I have experienced what you 
suffer; and you can, therefore, trust me in regard to the 
compensations of such a situation. The prefect of Lyons 
is a very kind-hearted man, and quite a gentleman. I 
advise you strongly, therefore, to go to Lyons." 

Madame Recamier decided to follow her friend's advice, 
and, a few days after the receipt of her letter, left for 
Lyons, where she was warmly welcomed by her husband's 
relatives, who were much respected in that city. She 
found there, also, several old friends, among them the 
Duchesse de Chevreuse, an exile like herself, her mother- 
in-law, the old Duchesse de Luynes, and Camille Jordan, 
whom the coup d'etat of the i8th Brumaire had driven out 
of public life. 

The poor young Duchesse de Chevreuse had, much 
against her will, been persuaded by her relatives to accept 
the post of dame du palais to the Empress Josephine. The 
duchess, however, who was as proud as she was beautiful, 
brought with her to the new Court all the disdain and 
hauteur of the old regime ; and when the Emperor showed 
himself not insensible to her charms, received his advances 
with marked coldness.* 

1 Madame de Stael appears to have had some idea, at this time, of 
making her way to the coast, and escaping to England in one of the 
English cruisers. 

2 " Madame de Chevreuse was pretty, although red haired, and very 
clever, but, having been excessively spoilt by her family, was wilful and 
fanciful. Her health, even then, was delicate. The Emperor tried by 
coaxing to console her for having been forced into the Court, and at 
times he would appear to have succeeded, but at others she would take 



After the family of the deposed King of Spain was 
brought to Fontainebleau, Napoleon intimated his desire 
that the duchess should be transferred to the service of 
the Spanish queen ; whereupon she haughtily replied that, 
although she had no objection to being a prisoner, she must 
absolutely decline to become a gaoler. This answer sent 
her into exile. When Madame Recamier met her at 
Lyons, her banishment had already lasted four years, and 
her health, never very strong, had quite given way, owing, 
in a great measure, to her constantly fretting over her 
troubles. She, in fact, died some months later. 

Madame de Chevreuse's mother-in-law, the old Duchesse 
de Luynes, and Madame Recamier soon became great 
friends. The duchess was a clever and eccentric old lady, 
who preferred male to female attire, and had a printing- 
press of her own at her chateau at Dampierre, where she not 
only set up type herself, but had the reputation of being a 
skilful compositor. One day, while at Lyons, she paid a 
visit to the works of a printer named Ballanche, and, 
while passing through the compositors* room, suddenly 
tucked up her dress she was attired that day, by way of 
a change, in woman's clothes placed herself before a 
case, and, to the intense admiration of all the workmen, 
set up the type for a whole page, imitating even the 
movement of the body peculiar to the compositors of that 

no pains to conceal her dislike to her position. She had an attraction 
for the Emperor, which others would have vainly endeavoured to exert, 
the charm of combat and of victory, for she would sometimes seem to be 
amused with the fetes and splendour of the Court, and when she 
appeared there in full dress and apparently in good spirits, then the 
Emperor, who enjoyed even the smallest success, would laugh and say, 
'I have overcome the aversion of Madame de Chevreuse.' But, in 
reality, I do not think he ever did." Memoirs of Madame de Remusat, 
ii. 85. 



day, and accomplishing her task with the most astonishing 

Simon Ballanche, the son of the above-named printer, 
was destined to achieve fame both as a philosopher and a 
poet, and what he probably valued a great deal more to 
become one of Madame Rcamier's most intimate friends. 
Balianche was an extraordinarily ugly man, owing to a 
deformity of one side of his face, the result of an accident ; 
but his fine eyes and pleasant expression compensated, 
in some degree, for this defect. He was presented to 
Madame Rcamier by Camille Jordan, who was enthusiastic 
in praise of his recently published Fragments, and was at 
once completely fascinated by the lovely Parisian. 

The unaffected simplicity and grace of her manner, the 
charm of her conversation, the kindly interest which this 
woman, so different from any whom he had hitherto met 
that she seemed almost like a being from another world, 
took in his somewhat obscure aspirations, won his heart 
and made him her slave for ever. Michelet another 
printer's son, by the way tells us that he once put 
the question off-hand to Ballanche, " Quest que cest la 
femme ? " The philosopher blushed like a child, hesitated 
a moment, and then replied, " Cest F initiation." And 
such assuredly was Madame Recamier to him. She led 
this shy, retiring, austere thinker into a new world ; she 
taught him that there were more things in heaven and 
earth than were dreamed of in his philosophy; she inspired 
his best efforts, and encouraged him to accomplish work 
which, otherwise, he would have been too modest even to 

"Give me leave to cherish for you the feelings of a 
brother for a sister," he says in one of his letters. " I look 
forward to the moment when I shall be able to lay at your 



feet, along with this brotherly affection, the little all that 
is in my power to accomplish. My devotion to you is 
sincere and whole-hearted. " And such it undoubtedly 
was for the rest of his life. He spent as much of his 
spare time in her company as she would allow him, and 
looked forward to the hour or two when he was admitted 
to the presence of his enchantress to console him for the 
literary solitude in which the remainder of his day was 
passed. When she travelled, he was always ready to 
accompany her did she need an escort, and when he could 
not be with her, it was seldom that a courier arrived without 
bringing her a letter from this, perhaps, the most devoted 
and unselfish of all her friends. To be with her was to be 
in heaven ; without her life would have been a burden too 
grievous to be borne. "You know well," he says in 
another of his letters, written at a time when her health 
was causing her friends much uneasiness, " that if you were 
to die, it would be necessary to lose no time in digging a 
grave for me, as I should soon follow you." This was 
not mere Gallic exuberance of expression ; it was the 
sober truth. There was no false sentiment about Simon 

And Madame Rcamier, it is pleasant to relate, with 
that delicacy and tact so peculiarly her own, having once 
ascertained his real worth, and the depth and purity of his 
affection for herself, admitted him to her friendship on a 
footing of perfect equality with the most distinguished 
of her associates, such as the Montmorencies and the 
La Rochefoucaulds. 

The printer-poet, although he had no flow of small 
talk, was far from being an uninteresting companion, but 
his manners were somewhat homely, and he was profoundly 
ignorant of the usages of polite society. The day after 

1 08 


he had been presented to Madame Rcamier he called 
upon her, and found himself alone with his charming 
hostess. Unfortunately, Ballanche's boots had that 
morning been cleaned with a preparation which imparted 
to them as disagreeable an odour as those of Sir Roger 
Williams, to whom Queen Elizabeth, on the occasion of 
his presenting an unfavoured petition, is said to have 
observed, with more candour than courtesy, " Faugh ! 
Williams, I prithee begone, thy boots stink," and to have 
been met with the witty retort, " Tut ! Tut ! madame, 
'tis my suit that stinketh." Madame R6camier had the 
advantage of better breeding than good Queen Bess, but 
the noxious odour was too much even for her sense of 
politeness, and, at length, she timidly confessed to her 
visitor that the smell of his shoes made her ill. 

Ballanche was not in the least offended at her admission, 
but at once rose, apologised profusely, and left the room. 
In a minute or two he returned without his shoes, and, 
quite unconscious that he was committing any solecism, 
resumed his seat, and continued the conversation. Just 
at that moment several other visitors were announced, 
and Ballanche was, of course, under the necessity of 
explaining to them his unusual and somewhat suspicious 

The hope of seeing Madame de Stael had been the 
principal reason which had induced Madame R6camier to 
come to Lyons. She appears to have had some idea of 
sharing her friend's flight to Sweden, and wrote offering 
to join her at Coppet. Madame de Stael, however, had 
reasons of her own for not desiring the company of even 
Madame Recamier at this juncture. She had lately con- 
tracted a rather undignified second marriage with a young 
Swiss officer named Roc^. invalided home from the 



Spanish war, whose helpless condition had aroused firs* 
her sympathy, and afterwards that feeling which is sup- 
posed to be akin to it. The only reply Madame Recamier 
received was a brief note, announcing that Madame 
de Stae'l had made her escape from French territory. 

" I bid you adieu, my guardian angel," she writes, 
" with all the warmth of my heart. I commit Auguste 
to your care. I trust that he will see you, and that I 
shall see him again. It is on you that I rely to console 
him, and to bring about our reunion when such an event 
becomes possible. You are an angelic creature. If I 
could live near you, I should be only too happy. Fate 
drags me away. Adieu ! " 

Although Madame Recamier saw a good deal of 
society, such as it was, at Lyons, and visited and received 
without any interference from the authorities, the lot of 
an exile under Napoleon's tyrannical rule was bound to 
be a humiliating one, and, when in the company of her 
friends, she was never quite free from the fear that those 
who were showing her kindness might at any moment be 
made to suffer for their generosity. The more timid and 
selfish of her neighbours, too, studiously avoided her ; 
and this could not fail to be extremely galling to a woman 
hitherto so admired and sought after. One such case she 
was fond of relating as an illustration of the petty 
despotism of those days. 

Shortly after she came to Lyons a certain gentleman, 
with social aspirations, who had been an occasional visitor 
at her house in Paris, hearing of her arrival, and ignorant 
of the reason which had brought her thither, hastened to 
the Hotel de 1'Europe, where she was staying, eager to 
pay his respects to so celebrated a leader of society. He 
found her in the company of her sister-in-law Madame 



Delphin, and Eugene d'Harcourt (afterwards the Due 
d'Harcourt), who had come to Lyons on purpose to see 
her ; and, after paying her many extravagant compliments, 
informed her that he was about to give a fete-champetre 
at his country house, a few miles from Lyons, and 
entreated her to grace it with her presence. 

Madame Recamier, who since her husband's failure 
had avoided large assemblies, declined, pleading a prior 
engagement with Madame Delphin and Eugene d'Har- 
court. Her visitor, however, would take no refusal, and 
she did not get rid of him until he had extracted a 
promise from the whole party to attend his fe'te. 

On the appointed day Madame Recamier and her 
friends hired a carriage, and drove out to the fete. When 
they entered the grounds, they found their host seated on 
the balustrade of a ring-game of which he was counting 
the strokes. Instead of rising to receive his guests, he 
merely nodded to them in a patronising kind of way, 
and again turned his attention to the game. Astonished 
beyond measure at such an extraordinary reception from 
a person who, a few days before, had been so extremely 
anxious for their company, they forthwith ordered their 
carriage and returned to Lyons. 

Not long afterwards Madame Recamier again met her 
late host at a dinner-party, at which he happened to be 
placed next to her. He hastened to apologise for his 
behaviour at the fete, remarking quite frankly, " What 
could I do ? I had learned that you were an exile. I do 
trust you are not offended." 

Madame Recamier was so amused at this unconscious 
meanness that she answered, laughing : 

" Monsieur, it is impossible to be offended with such a 
person as you are." 



This the good man took as a compliment, and declared 
that she was the most amiable woman he had ever met. 

The frequent stopping of travellers at Lyons furnished 
some distraction for Madame Recamier. It was to this 
that she owed a visit from Madame Junot, now Duchesse 
d'Abrantes, who was on her way from Aix to Paris. The 
duchess and Madame R6camier had not met since Jacques 
Recamier's failure, and the former was much touched at 
finding her friend, whom she had last seen in her 
magnificent hotel in the Rue du Mont Blanc, surrounded 
by every conceivable luxury, occupying a single apartment 
at an inn, but still as beautiful, as graceful, and as charming 
as ever. 

" Madame R6camier," she says, " had in her apartment 
a pianoforte, drawing materials, work-frames, books, &c. 
These alternately occupied her time, but could not entirely 
exclude melancholy recollections. Madame Doumerc ran 
her fingers over the keys of the pianoforte, and produced 
those sweet sounds which she knew so well how to draw 
from the instrument. 

" * Ah ! ' exclaimed Madame Recamier, * revive some of 
the recollections I share in common with you both. Sing 
me a song, but let it be French not Italian/ 

" Madame Doumerc requested me to accompany her 
in one of Bo'ieldieu's romances, the words of which were 
written by M. de Longchamp when he was banished to 
America by the Directory. They are expressive of the 
deepest melancholy, and I could perceive they drew tears 
from the eyes of the fair exile." l 

That winter the celebrated actor Talma came to Lyons 
to fulfil an engagement at the Grand Theatre. He had 
been on friendly terms with Madame Recamier in Paris 

1 Mem firs of the Duchesse d'Abi -antes, iv. 243. 


and she invited him to dine with her. The Abbe" de 
Boulogne, Bishop of Troyes, one of the most famous 
preachers of the day, was also of the party. The bishop 
had never been to a play in his life, but he was well 
acquainted with dramatic literature, and was delighted at 
meeting the celebrated tragedian. 

After dinner he asked Talma to recite something, which 
the actor did, choosing, out of respect to the good bishop, 
one of his roles in which religious sentiment was expressed. 
The abbe was delighted, and when Talma, in return, 
begged for an extract from one of his sermons, willingly 
consented. Talma listened with great interest to the 
preacher, praised his delivery, made some remarks upon 
his gestures, and added, " It is very good down to here, 
monseigneur (pointing to the bishop's chest), but the lower 
part of the body goes for nothing. One can easily see 
that you have never given a thought to your legs." 

Towards the end of January 1813 Mathieu de Mont- 
morency came to Lyons, and, noticing that his friend 
seemed far from well, advised her to spend the remainder 
of the winter in Italy. Madame Recamier had long 
wished to visit the enchanted land of Dante and Petrarch, 
of Raphael and Michael Angelo ; and, now that Madame 
de Stael was beyond her reach, there was nothing to keep 
her at Lyons. She therefore started for Italy early in 
February, with her little niece and maid. Montmorency 
accompanied her as far as Chambry ; and, after he had 
left her, she divided her time between the scenery and a 
little travelling library, the books composing which had 
been selected for her by Simon Ballanche. One of these 
books, it is interesting to note, was Le Genie du 
Christianisme, the brilliant author of which was to become 
in lattr years the most cherished of all her friends. 


Madame Recamier's impressions of Turin She arrives in 
Rome State of the city during the French occupation The 
Torlonias Canova, the sculptor, and his brother Madame 
Re*camier's friendship with them Visit of Ballanche to Rome 
Madame Recamier goes to Albano The condemned fisher- 
man Madame Recamier's efforts to save him Madame 
Recamier sets out for Naples The post-horses at Velletri 
Meeting with Fouche Arrival in Naples Cordial reception 
by the King and Queen Character of Caroline and of 
Joachim Murat Murat joins the coalition against Napoleon 
A painful scene at the palace " Then I am a traitor ! " 
Madame Recamier intercedes for a criminal She returns to 
Rome The Beatrice of Canova The Allies enter France 
Madame Recamier again visits Naples M. Mazois and the 
brigands Entry of Pius VII. into Rome Extraordinary 
enthusiasm of the people Madame Recamier returns to Paris 

MADAME RE"CAMIER'S first stop was made at Turin, where 
Prince Borghese, Pauline Bonaparte's second husband, 
who had in 1808 been appointed by Napoleon Governor- 
General of Piedmont, Genoa, and Parma, had fixed his 
Court. From Turin she writes to Camille Jordan. 


"TURIN, March 26, 1813. 

ff It is impossible, dear Camille, to write a more charm- 
ing letter than the one I have received from you. You 



cannot imagine the feeling of sadness which came over me 
on reaching the summit of Mont Cenis, and beginning 
the descent of the opposite slope. It seemed to place an 
eternal barrier between myself and those I love ; and I 
was so miserable when I reached Turin that I thought I 
was going to be ill. I began to recover my spirits two 
days ago, to make plans for the future, and to escape for 
a little while from that gloomy train of thought, which I 
have determined to avoid as much as possible. 

" I am also beginning to take some interest in my sur- 
roundings, and to receive a few visitors. Italian influences 
commence to make themselves felt here, not on the climate, 
but on people's morals. The married ladies have cicisbeos 
to keep them company, and abbes for their major-domos. 
Prince Borghese, whom every one speaks of as " the " 
Prince, has, they say, the most pompous little Court in 
Europe. The scandals, the toilets, the intrigues of this 
little Court appear to engross all people's thoughts, and to 
be the sole topic of their conversation. Our friend, the 
Comte Alfieri, is a wonderful success as Master of the 
Ceremonies. The old Piedmontese nobility and the French 
officials are always meeting at Court, and there is no 
longer much love lost between them. The conceit of 
these nobles and officials reminds one of the great world of 
Paris, but they are much more ridiculous, inasmuch as 
they move in a much smaller sphere, and are not allied to 
any political party. I do not believe there is any country 
in the world where people attach more importance to out- 
ward display. Their houses are palaces, and they cling 
to the old custom of keeping an immense number of 
servants. But when you pay them an informal visit, 
you are considerably astonished, after traversing ante- 
chambers, reception-rooms, and galleries, to find the 



mistress of the house in a little back room lighted by a 
single candle. 

" * The ' Prince leads a most secluded life, except when 
he has to attend official gatherings. He spends all his 
time shut up in a suite of rooms on the ground floor of 
his palace. He has lived this retired life for two years. 
They say that all that time the Venetian blinds of the 
lower room of his suite have always remained closed. A 
single man-servant enters this lower room each morning, 
and it is provided with fresh flowers every day, 
and . . ." 

\*The rest of this letter is missing.'] 

On leaving Turin, Madame Recamier visited Parma, 
Modena, Bologna, and Florence, and arrived in Rome at 
the beginning of Holy Week. She engaged rooms, at 
first, on the Piazza d'Espagna, but, a little later on, 
removed to a suite on the first floor of the Fiano Palace, 
on the Corso, where her salon soon became a centre of 
attraction to the few foreigners then in Rome. 

Rome was at this time bereft of its Pontiff, who was a 
prisoner at Fontainebleau, in the palace of Francis I. ; 
and the capital of the Christian world was only the chief 
town of the Department of the Tiber. Sympathy for the 
unfortunate Pius VII. was universal among the Romans, 
and all classes were united in hatred of the French rule. 
Many of the aristocracy and clergy had left Rome ; the 
disturbed state of Europe kept foreigners away, and a 
mournful spirit seemed to hover over the whole city. 

Madame Recamier had letters of credit and introduc- 
tion to the principal banker Torlonia, " a banker in the 
morning and Duke de Bracciano at night," an extraordi- 
nary character, who in business was as avaricious as a Jew 



usurer, and in private life as sumptuous as the most mag- 
nificent grand-seigneur. He lived in a splendid palace on 
the Corso, filled with almost priceless works of art, where 
he dispensed lavish hospitality, and boasted, at the same 
time, of his mean acts, the contemplation of which seemed 
to afford him as much pleasure as that of his pictures and 
curios. Here Madame Recamier visited him, and was 
most cordially received by the banker and his wife, who, 
in her way, was almost as singular a personage as her 

" The duchess," says Madame Lenormant, " had been 
very lovely, and, though no longer young in 1813, was 
still handsome. She was good-natured, and, like the 
Italian women of that day, a strange compound of infi- 
delity and devotion. In a confidential moment, she related 
what care she had taken to prevent her husband's peace of 
mind being disturbed by her conduct, and added, * Oh ! 
he will be very much astonished at the Day of Judg- 
ment/" 1 

The Torlonias were extremely kind to Madame Rca- 
mier, and through them she became acquainted with 
several of the leading families among the Roman aris- 

One of the first visits which Madame Recamier paid in 
Rome was to the studio of the famous sculptor Canova. 
She had no special introduction to him ; but all strangers 
were admitted to his atelier. The sculptor himself worked 
in an inner room, secure from all interruption. Madame 
Recamier, however, was so charmed with the specimens of 
Canova's skill which she saw around her that she wished 
to see the workman also, and, accordingly, sent in her 
name. Canova immediately came out, holding his paper 

1 Souvenirs, i. 220. 


cap in his hand, and, bowing gracefully, invited her into 
his own studio, where she found his half-brother the Abbe" 
Canova, who acted as secretary and reader to the sculptor, 
and was so devoted to him that he followed him about 
like his shadow. 

Canova, who was a passionate admirer of beauty, 
returned Madame Recamier's visit the same evening ; 
and the acquaintance thus formed soon ripened into a 
warm friendship, and it was seldom that the sculptor failed 
to pass part of his evening with the beautiful French- 

He lived on a second floor on the Corso, in large rooms, 
comfortably rather than luxuriously furnished, and full of 
fine engravings. He was extremely simple in his tastes, 
and went but little into society. Generous to the verge of 
prodigality, he spent the greater portion of his princely 
income in assisting struggling fellow artists and men of 
letters, and was, in consequence, universally beloved. His 
half-brother, the abbe, who had considerable literary 
attainments, shared his admiration for Madame Recamier, 
and, every day during her stay in Rome, composed a 
sonnet, which he dedicated to " la bellissima Zulietta" 

In the early part of July, Madame Recamier received a 
flying visit from Ballanche. His father was unable to 
spare him for more than a few days, so, in order to lose 
as little as possible of his brief holiday, he travelled from 
Lyons without stopping day or night. On the day of his 
arrival, the evening being beautifully fine, Madame Reca- 
mier suggested a drive to show him St. Peter's and the 
Coliseum by moonlight. Canova, who took the most 
minute care of his health, was one of the party, and 
appeared enveloped in a thick cloak to protect himself 
from the balmy evening breeze. But Ballanche came 



without his hat, and, on being asked where it was, replied 
unconcernedly that he fancied it was at Alexandria. He 
had, in fact, left it there, and had never even thought of 
replacing it, so little attention did he pay to the ordinary 
details of life. 

When August came, and Rome was becoming deserted 
owing to the heat and the malaria, Canova placed part of 
his locanda at Albano at Madame Recamier's disposal, an 
offer which she gladly accepted. Her rooms overlooked 
the Campagna, and commanded a magnificent view of the 
vast undulating plain and the distant sea. In this lovely 
spot the ex-leader of fashion was quite happy with no 
other company than that of her little niece, though Canova 
and his brother came out from time to time for a breath 
of country air, generally remaining three or four days. 

It was while she was at Albano that an incident occurred 
which affords a striking illustration of that goodness of 
heart which endeared Madame Recamier to all with whom 
she came in contact. 

One Sunday evening she was returning from church 
when she saw an excited crowd of peasants grouped round 
the low doorway of a cottage ; and, in reply to her 
questions, she was told that a fisherman of the coast, 
accused of giving information to the English, had just 
been confined in the cottage, which served the purpose of 
a prison, and was to be shot at daybreak. At that 
moment the prisoner's confessor, the priest of Albano, 
came out of the cottage, and catching sight of Madame 
Recamier, whose alms had several times passed through 
his hands, hastened towards her, hoping that she might 
possibly have some influence with the French authorities. 

Madame Recamier accompanied the priest into the 
prison, where she found the condemned fisherman, a young 


and handsome man, heavily manacled and almost beside 
himself with fear. His eyes seemed to be starting out 
of his head, his teeth chattered, the sweat rolled in great 
beads off his forehead, and his whole appearance indicated 
the most intense agony. 

On seeing the terrible distress of the unhappy man, 
Madame Recamier was deeply touched, and promised the 
priest to do everything in her power to obtain a commu- 
tation of his sentence. The priest then explained to the 
prisoner that the lady was French, that she was kind and 
generous, that she was full of compassion for him, and 
would intercede for his pardon. 

At the word " pardon," the condemned man became a 
little calmer : " Pieta I Pieta I " he cried. His confessor 
made him promise to compose himself, to pray to God, 
and take a little food, while his protectress went to Rome 
to make intercession for him. 

As the execution was fixed for the following morning, 
there was plainly not a moment to be lost. Madame 
Recamier forthwith hurried home, ordered post-horses, and 
set out for Rome. At that time the Campagna between 
Albano and Rome was infested by brigands, and travelling 
by night far from safe ; but she was not molested, 
and reached the city in safety. She drove at once to 
General de Miollis, the commander-in-chief of the French 
troops, but, though he received her very courteously, he 
professed himself unable to help her. The power of 
pardon, he said, rested entirely with M. de Norvins, the 
prefect. To his house, accordingly, she went, but he was 
fcot at home, and all attempts to find him were unsuc- 
cessful. She, therefore, left a message begging him to 
come to her rooms at the Fiano Palace as soon as he 
returned, and drove thither to await him. 



It was very late before the prefect arrived, and she saw 
at once by his manner that her errand would be a fruitless 
one. His only reply to her passionate entreaties was to 
advise her not to forget her own position, and to remind 
her that it ill became an exile to endeavour to save the 
Emperor's enemies from punishment. She returned to 
Albano the following morning, feeling terribly depressed 
by the failure of her mission of mercy, and haunted by the 
face of the unfortunate fisherman, whom she had seen a 
prey to all the terrors of death. 

When she arrived the tragedy was over. The priest of 
Albano called upon her in the course of the day to bring 
her the victim's blessing. Up to the very last moment, it 
appeared, he had refused to abandon hope, turning his 
bandaged eyes towards Rome, as if expecting to hear the 
sweet voice of the Signora Francese returning with his 

In October Madame Rcamier returned to Rome, where 
the check which Napoleon's ambitious schemes had re- 
ceived and the continuous reverses of the French armies 
formed the one topic of conversation, and kept every one 
in a state of constant excitement. A victim of Napoleon's 
tyranny, Madame Rcamier had every reason to desire his 
overthrow, which would leave her and her friends free to 
return to their beloved Paris. But personal considerations 
did not cause her to forget that she was a Frenchwoman ; 
and she would never permit a single word derogatory to 
the national honour to be uttered in her presence. 

The autumn brought a few visitors to Rome, including 
M. de Chateauvieux, whom she had met at Coppet; the 
Prince de Rohan-Chabot, the Emperor's chamberlain, one 
of the few great noblemen who, from prudential reasons, 
had joined the Imperial household ; and Sir John Coghill, 



the antiquary, who was travelling in Italy in quest of 
Etruscan vases and ancient inscriptions. The two latter 
were on their way to Naples, and urged Madame Reca- 
mier to complete her Italian tour by a visit to that city. 
She demurred at first, being a little doubtful as to the 
reception which she, as an exile, might expect from the 
king and queen, her old friends Joachim and Caroline 
Murat ; but, on being reassured on this point by M. de 
Rohan, she left for Naples in December, in company with 
Coghill and his family. 

At Velletri, their first halting-place, they found to their 
surprise the horses for both their carriages already har- 
nessed and awaiting them. Coghill, who occupied the 
foremost carriage, with true British imperiousness, forth- 
with secured them, without troubling himself to inquire 
for whom they were intended. The same thing occurred 
at every successive stage, and at length they discovered, 
from some remarks that the postilions let fall, that a 
courier had preceded them, and ordered the horses to be in 
readiness for some great unknown personage who was 

In this manner they reached Terracina, where they 
intended to pass the night, but had not been there long 
when two carriages drove up, and a loud and angry voice 
exclaimed, " Where are those insolent people who have 
robbed me of my post-horses along the whole route ? " 

On hearing this voice, which sounded strangely familiar, 
Madame Recamier put her head out of the window, and 
beheld her old enemy Fouche stamping up and down the 
courtyard in a white heat of indignation. 

" Here they are," she answered, laughing heartily. " It 
is I, Monsieur le Due." 

On recognising Madame Recamier the old Minister of 



Police drew back, a little ashamed of his anger, but the 
lady, without appearing to notice his embarrassment, in- 
vited him into her room. Fouche was hurrying to Naples 
on a mission to Murat, the object of which was to main- 
tain that vacillating sovereign in his allegiance to Napoleon; 
for the earth was beginning to tremble under the feet of 
the conqueror, and the kings whom he himself had created 
were beginning to show unmistakable signs of restiveness. 
Murat himself was being warmly pressed by both England 
and Austria to join the coalition against Napoleon ; and 
it was only some honourable scruples that had hitherto 
kept him from doing so. It was of the utmost importance 
to the Emperor not to lose such an ally, and his envoy had 
good reason for his haste. 

Fouch6 asked Madame Recamier rather sharply what 
she wanted in Naples, and proceeded to warn her against 
meddling in politics. 

" Yes, madame," said he, " remember that when we are 
weak, we ought to be amiable." 

" And when we are strong, we ought to be just/* she 

Fouche continued his journey, and Madame Recamier 
arrived safely in Naples the following day. 

Scarcely was she installed in the rooms on the Chiaja, 
which had been taken for her by Rohan, when a page 
came from the queen, bearing a basket of magnificent 
fruit and flowers, and a message from both sovereigns 
inquiring after her health, and expressing their desire to 
see her as soon as she was sufficiently rested. The follow- 
ing morning, accordingly, she presented herself at the 
palace, and was most cordially welcomed by the king and 
queen. Both Caroline and her husband vied with one 
another in showing her kindness. There was always a 



welcome for her at Court, where the queen insisted on 
giving her precedence over all the other ladies, much to 
the disgust of the latter ; a box at the Opera was placed at 
her disposal, and a special party to Pompeii was organised 
for the purpose of displaying its antiquities to the fair 

Caroline Murat, though not so handsome as her sister 
Pauline, perhaps next to Madame Recamier the greatest 
beauty in France, was a very lovely woman with dazzlingly 
white skin and beautiful fair hair, and united to her 
personal attractions administrative capabilities of no mean 
order. Her government of Naples, when entrusted with 
the regency during her husband's absence at the seat of 
war, was distinguished by a prudence and energy which 
caused Talleyrand to remark that " she had the head of a 
Cromwell on the shoulders of a pretty woman. 1 ' 1 Her 
husband, on the other hand, although as brave a soldier as 
ever drew a sword, was absolutely destitute both of political 
ability and of moral courage. " You are a good soldier 
on the field of battle, but, beyond that, you have no 
energy,' * wrote Napoleon to him on one occasion. He 
seems, indeed, to have been entirely under the domination 
of his clever and ambitious consort, and, when deprived 
of her counsels, to have been like a ship without a rudder. 

At the time of Madame Rdcamier's arrival in Naples, 
Murat had finally decided to throw in his lot with England 
and Austria against his old master and brother-in-law. 

1 " The Queen of Naples was a woman of considerable shrewdness, 
energy of character, and talent. I use this expression in reference to 
political life only. That excepted, she was as ignorant as a woman can 
well be, or, I ought rather to say, as women were a hundred years ago. 
Though wanting in the most ordinary education, yet, if a grave politic^ 
question came under discussion, she would speak like a well-informed! 
statesman." Memoirs of ike Duchess of Abrant^s^ iv. 354. 



The interests of his dynasty, indeed, imperatively demanded 
such a step, for it was the only course by which he could 
avoid being involved in the downfall of Napoleon, now 
plainly inevitable. The Neapolitans themselves desired 
peace at any price, and loudly demanded separation from 
France. Murat was extremely popular with his subjects, 
especially with the fishermen and the lazzaroni of the 
Carmine, but their affection was alienated by the fear of 
war and the English invasion. Large crowds began to 
assemble in front of the palace, clamouring for peace, and 
accompanying their demands with threatening gestures. 
The queen, too, who was not inclined to allow any 
sentiment of gratitude or honour to stand between her 
and her ambition, ably seconded the people's wishes, and 
used all her influence to induce her husband to betray their 
common benefactor, with the result that, on January n, 
poor Murat, consoling himself with the reflection that his 
first duty was to his own subjects, signed the treaty which 
bound him to the coalition. 

On the day on which the treaty was to be made public, 
Madame Recamier was alone with the queen in her apart- 
ments when the king entered in a great state of agitation. 
He was deadly pale, his hair was in disorder, his eyes 
rolled wildly, and, to all appearance, he was under the 
influence of some overpowering excitement. Rushing up 
to Madame Recamier, he seized her by both her hands, and, 
hoping against hope that she would approve the decision he 
had already made, he began, as coherently as he could, to 
explain the situation in which he was placed, and concluded 
by asking her what course she would advise to adopt. 

" Sire," she answered, " you are a Frenchman. To 
France you must be true." 

" Then I am a traitor ! " cried the unhappy man, and 


opening a window of the palace which overlooked the 
sea, he pointed to the English fleet sailing majestically 
into the Bay of Naples, and then, covering his face with 
his hands, burst into tears. 

Murat seemed perfectly bewildered with despair and 
grief. The queen, much firmer, though not less moved, 
ran towards him, exclaiming : 

" In the name of Heaven, Joachim, be silent, or, at least, 
speak lower ! In the next room there are a hundred ears 
ready to catch every word you utter. Be silent ! Have 
you lost all self-control ? " Then, finding that her words 
produced no effect upon her husband, she went to a table, 
filled a glass from a carafe of orange-flower water, poured 
some drops of ether into it, and brought it to the dis- 
tracted monarch. 

" Drink this and compose yourself," said she. " The 
crisis has now arrived. Murat, remember what you are. 
You are King of Naples. Do not lose sight of the duty 
you owe to your subjects and your family." 

After a time Murat, who perhaps had some premonition 
of the terrible fate which awaited him, grew calmer, and 
left the room to make some alteration in his dress. No 
sooner had the door closed behind him, than the queen 
threw herself into Madame Recamier's arms, and, with 
tears in her eyes, exclaimed : 

" You see, I am obliged to have courage for him as well 
as for myself. At a time, too, when my courage is 
scarcely sustained by my affection for my children when 
I am hourly distracted by thinking of my brother, who 
believes me to be guilty of treason towards him. Oh, 
pity me ! I have need of pity, and I deserve it. If you 
could search my heart, you would understand what torture 
I am doomed to bear." 



Madame Rdcamier returned to her hotel much moved 
by the painful scene which she had just witnessed. 
Suddenly her attention was attracted by a great com- 
motion in the street. She ran to the window, and saw 
Murat on horseback in the midst of an immense crowd. 
The intelligence of the treaty of alliance, confirmed by 
the presence of the English ships in the harbour, had 
spread, and the populace, whose attitude had recently been 
so threatening, were now cheering the king. Later in the 
day the king and queen ordered their carriage, and drove 
round the town, where they were everywhere received 
with enthusiasm ; and at night appeared at the theatre 
in company with the Austrian Envoy Extraordinary, 
the negotiator of the treaty, and the English admiral. 
Two days later Murat quitted Naples to take command 
of the Neapolitan army, leaving his wife to act as 

One morning, soon after the king's departure, Madame 
Recamier, coming to the palace in response to an invitation 
from the queen, was ushered into the royal bedchamber, 
where Queen Caroline, who was rather unwell, was still 
in bed. The queen's bedchamber, which commanded a 
view of the bay, was, like all her other apartments, fitted 
up most luxuriously. It was hung with white satin, which 
harmonised with the dazzling complexion of its mistress, 
while the bed curtains were of richly worked tulle, lined 
with pink satin. Queen Caroline frequently received 
visitors while in bed, as she had been in the habit of doing 
in Paris, and at the moment when Madame Recamier 
entered, the Minister of Justice was standing by her side, 
handing her some papers relating to his department which 
required her signature. As she was about to sign one of 
these documents, she paused and said, " You would be 



very unhappy, dear Madame Recamier, were you in my 
place, for I am about to sign a death warrant." 

" Oh, madame ! " cried her visitor, rising, " you will 
not sign it. Since Heaven has brought me into your 
presence at this time, it wishes to save this unfortunate 


The queen smiled, and, turning to the Minister, said : 
" Madame Recamier does not wish this wretched man to 
die. Can we pardon him ? " After some discussion, the 
party of clemency carried the day, and the pardon was 

Madame Recamier was fond of recalling this incident as 
one of the happiest moments of her life, and regarded it 
as some compensation for her unsuccessful efforts on 
behalf of the poor fisherman of Albano. 

Madame Recamier returned to Rome in time for the 
ceremonies of Holy Week. The Canovas were, of 
course, overjoyed at seeing her again, and made her 
promise to come to the studio to see the works executed 
during her absence. She went, but was somewhat 
surprised to find little or nothing new until she came into 
the private studio, when the sculptor, about whom there 
was an air of mystery, drew aside a curtain, and displayed 
two clay busts of Madame Recamier, one with no 
ornament but the hair, the other with the addition of a 

" See if I have not thought of you ! " exclaimed Canova, 
with the air of an artist who believes in his success. 

The busts had, of course, been executed from memory, 
and, as one of the lady's friends observes, " the sculptor 
had not attempted to copy Madame Recamier's features 
so much as to embody the lineaments of her soul." 1 

1 Eraser's Magazine, July 1849. 


Unfortunately, Madame Rcamier did not consider the 
busts faithful likenesses, and said as much. The sculptor 
was deeply wounded. He dropped the curtain, and never 
referred to them again. It is not known what became of 
the plain bust, but Canova added a crown of olives to the 
one with the veil, and when, some time afterwards, 
Madame Rcamier asked him what he had done with it, 
he replied, " It did not please you, so I have made a 
Beatrice of it." Such was the origin of the Beatrice of 
Dante, one of the most exquisite works of this famous 
sculptor. After Canova's death his brother, the Abbe" 
Canova, sent a copy of it to Madame Rcamier, with the 
following lines : 

" Sovra candido vel, cinta d'oliva, 
Donna m'apparve. . . . l 


" Ritratto di Giulietta Rtcamier, modellato di memoria> 
da Canova^ nel 1813, e poi consecrate in marmo col nome di 
Beatrice: 1 

Meanwhile France was invaded, and Napoleon's position 
was daily becoming more critical. Caroline Murat, half 
regretting her own and her husband's treachery, and 
apprehensive that perhaps after all it might fail to save 
their throne, wrote to Madame Rcamier, begging her to 
come and comfort her. She went, and, while at Naples, 
learned that Napoleon had abdicated, and had been sent to 
play at being king on the little island of Elba. 

There was now, of course, no obstacle in the way of 
Madame Rcamier's return to Paris, although her sentence 
of exile had not yet been formally revoked ; and, 

1 "Under a white veil, crowned with an olive wreath, a woman 
appeared to me." 

129 I 


accordingly, she took an affectionate farewell of her royal 
friend, and left Naples for Rome en route for France. Just 
as she was on the point of starting, however, intelligence 
was brought that a band of brigands was committing 
depredations in the neighbourhood ; whereupon Queen 
Caroline insisted that M. Mazois, one of the officers of 
her household, should escort her guest. The journey to 
Rome was accomplished without hindrance, but on his 
way back to Naples, M. Mazois and his servants were less 
fortunate. They were attacked and overpowered by the 
banditti, who were in much greater force than had been 
supposed, and robbed of everything, even their clothes. 

Before Madame R6camier finally quitted the Eternal 
City, she had the privilege of beholding such a spectacle 
as is seen only once in a lifetime the return of Pius VII. 
to his capital. She witnessed the pageant from the top of 
some raised seats that had been erected beneath the porticos 
of the two churches which form the entrance to the Corso, 
opposite the Porto del Popolo. The enthusiasm of the 
whole city was indescribable. All the great Roman nobles 
and young men of rank went out to meet the Pope at 
Storta, the last stage from Rome, where the horses were 
taken out of the Pontiff's carriage, which was then drawn 
to the city and through the streets to St. Peter's, amid 
the acclamations of the people. The august old man 
who was the object of all this passionate loyalty was on 
his knees, his whole bearing suggestive of the deepest 
humility : and when at length St. Peter's was reached, 
and the liberated Pontiff" knelt before the altar, while the 
5TV Deum resounded through the vaulted arches, there was 
hardly a dry eye in the whole vast assembly. 

On her way to Paris Madame Recamier stopped for a 
few days at Lyons, where Ballanche and Camille Jordan 



had been impatiently awaiting her arrival ; and attended 
a grand fete, which was given in honour of the restoration 
of the Bourbons. At Lyons she received a note from 
Madame de Stael, who had hastened back to Paris as soon 
as she was assured of the fall of her old enemy. " I am 
ashamed," she wrote, " to be in Paris without you, dear 
angel of my life. After so many trials, the sweetest 
prospect that lies before me is that of seeing you, for my 
heart is always devoted to you." 

Madame Rcamier arrived in Paris on June i, after 
an absence of nearly three years. 


Society at the Restoration Old familiar faces Madame de 
Stael Mathieu de Montmorency Madame Moreau Fate 
of Victor Moreau Honours bestowed upon his widow 
The Duke of Wellington the hero of the day Madame 
Rcamier's account of her acquaintance with him His 
admiration for her His " unmeaning notes " " Je Pat bien 
battu " Benjamin Constant Influence of women over him 
Madame Recamier invokes his assistance on behalf of the 
Murats He falls madly in love with her His extraordinary 
letters Madame Recamier's treatment of him considered 
Napoleon returns to France Madame Recamier refuses to 
leave Paris Letter from the Queen of Naples The fate of 
Murat Benjamin Constant's violent article in the Journal 
des Debats He flies to Nantes But returns, and is recon- 
ciled to Napoleon He becomes a Councillor of State "Le 
Benjaminisme " Probable reason for Constant's tergiversations 

MADAME RicAMiER returned not only to Paris, but to 
something of her former wealth, for in the interval her 
husband had in a measure recovered his losses, while she 
had inherited her mother's fortune of some 400,000 francs, 
which had maintained her in exile. In person she was as 
lovely as ever ; and the prestige of her self-sacrificing 
friendship for Madame de Stael, and the sympathy which 
Napoleon's cruel persecution of her had aroused, enhanced 
the fame of her beauty, and her salon was as brilliant and 
as crowded as ever. 

Solitude and reflection had opened to Madame Recamier 



fresh and more permanent sources of pleasure. During 
the dreary months she had spent at Chalons and Lyons 
she had been afforded opportunities for study which had 
been denied her while living in the whirl of Parisian 
gaiety ; and her taste for intellectual society had been 
greatly stimulated by intercourse with such men as 
Ballanche and the Canovas. She determined, henceforth, 
to confine herself as much as possible to the society of 
refined and cultivated people, and to withdraw from the 
fashionable and somewhat dissipated circles she had 
formerly frequented. To do so was now far easier than 
before the Restoration, for society was beginning to return 
into its old channel. During the Empire the salons had 
never attained to anything approaching the brilliance 
which had distinguished them under the old regime, partly 
owing to the suspicion with which Napoleon regarded 
them, and partly owing to the vulgarity of the ladies of 
the Imperial Court. Now, however, allowing for the 
difference of manners, they soon became of as much im- 
portance as before the Revolution. 

To Madame Recamier's social successes were added the 
pleasures of renewed friendships. Madame de Stael was 
one of the first to welcome her, and was, of course, over- 
joyed at once more beholding her "dear angel." Mathieu 
de Montmorency had also returned, and had iust been 
appointed Chevalier cTHonneur to the Duchesse d'Angou- 
leme, and was looked upon as one of the leaders of the 
ultra-Royalists ; while among many other old friends, to 
whom the gates of Paris had been opened by the fall of 
Napoleon, was Madame Moreau, now, alas ! a widow. 

After his expulsion from France in 1 804, Moreau and 
his wife had retired to America, where for nine years they 
lived happily enough. Unfortunately, Madame Moreau, 


who was an extremely ambitious woman, would not allow 
her husband to rest, but persuaded him to open negotia- 
tions with his old comrade Bernadotte, who had joined 
the coalition against Napoleon. 

At Bernadotte's suggestion, Moreau entered the service 
of the Czar, and agreed to direct the operations of the 
campaign of 1813. Fortunately for his fame as a patriot, 
he did not live to invade his country, as he was mortally 
wounded, while making a reconnaissance in company with 
the Czar, before Dresden, on August 27, and died a few 
days later. His last words, " Soyez tranquille y messieurs ; 
cest mon sort" would seem to imply that he did not 
altogether regret being removed from his equivocal posi- 
tion as a general in arms against the troops which he had 
so often led to victory. His body was embalmed at 
Prague and conveyed to St. Petersburg, where the Czar 
caused it to be buried in the Roman Catholic church in 
that city. Alexander also bestowed upon the widow a 
pension of 100,000 francs. 

After the Restoration, Louis XVIII., wishing to testify 
his respect for the memory of the Republican general, 
offered Madame Moreau the title of " Duchess." This 
she refused, but accepted that which would have belonged 
to the soldier had he survived, and was, accordingly, created 
Marechale de France^ the only time this dignity has been 
conferred upon a woman. 

Society was very gay that year in Paris. The national 
pride was undoubtedly wounded by the presence of foreign 
soldiers in the capital of France, especially when people 
happened to be as unfortunate as the poor Duchesse 
d'Abrantes, who had an officer of Cossacks billeted upon 
her, who drank a bottle of brandy at every meal, and 
went to bed in his boots and spurs ; but the Parisians 



consoled themselves with the reflection that their own 
troops had bivouacked in every capital in continental 
Europe. Moreover, disgust with Napoleon's insatiable 
ambition and the conscriptions, which had sent so many 
thousands of gallant young men to their death, was such 
that the whole country breathed more freely now that the 
despotic Government was no more. 

With the returned exiles the English were the fashion, 
and Wellington the hero of the day. The duke was a 
frequent visitor at Madame de StaeTs, and it was here 
that Madame Recamier first met the conqueror of the 
Peninsula, who, like every one else, seems to have at 
once succumbed to the charms of the world-renowned 
beauty. One of the fragments of Madame Rcamier's 
journal which has been preserved contains some interesting 
memoranda relating to her acquaintance with the duke. 

" fhe Duke of Wellington. 

" Madame de StaeTs enthusiasm for the Duke of 
Wellington. I see him at her house for the first time. 
Conversation during dinner. He pays me a visit the 
following day. Madame de Stael meets him here. Lord 
Wellington's visits become frequent. His opinion of 
popularity. I present him to Queen Hortense. 1 Soiree 
at the house of the Duchesse de Luynes. Conversation 
with the Duke of Wellington before a glass door. 
M. de Talleyrand and the Duchesse de Courland. Em- 
pressement of M. de Talleyrand towards me. The feeling 

1 Queen Hortense did not leave Paris on the downfall of Napoleon, 
and, mainly through the pressure brought to bear upon him by the 
Emperor Alexander, Louis XVIII. consented to create her Duchesse de 
St. Leu, giving her at the same time her estates as an independent 



of aversion I have always entertained for him. Madame 
de Boigne stops me as I am leaving, followed by the Duke 
of Wellington. Continuation of his visits. Madame 
de Stae'l wishes me to obtain influence over him. He 
writes me unmeaning notes, which all resemble one 
another. 1 I lend him Mademoiselle de L'Espinasse's 
letters, which have just appeared. His opinion of these 
letters. 2 He leaves Paris. I see him again after the 
battle of Waterloo. He calls upon me the day after his 
return. I did not expect him. Annoyance this visit 
occasions me. He returns in the evening, and is denied 
admission. I again refuse to see him the next day. He 
writes to Madame de Stae'l to complain of my treatment 
of him. I do not see him again. It is reported that he 
is very much impressed with a young English lady, the 
wife of one of his aides-de-camp. Return of Madame 
dc Stae'l to Paris. Dinner at the Queen of Sweden's with 

1 Of these " unmeaning " notes the following one will serve as an 
example : 

"PARIS, June 13. 

" I confess, Madame, that I am not very sorry that business matters 
will prevent my calling upon you after dinner ; since each time I see 
you, I leave you more deeply impressed with your charms, and less 
inclined to give my attention to politics ! ! ! I shall call upon you to- 
morrow, provided you are at home, upon my return from the Abbe 
Sicard's, and in spite of the dangerous effect such visits have upon me. 

" Your very faithful servant, 


2 " J'etais tout hier & la chasse, Madame ; et je n'ai re9u votre billet 
et les livres qu'a la nuit, quand c'etait trop tard pour vous repondre. 
J'esperais que mon jugement serait guide par le votre dans ma lecture 
des lettres de Mile. Espinasse, et je dcsespere de pouvoir le former moi- 
mcme. Je vous suis bien oblige pour la pamphlete de Mme. de Stae'l. 

" Votre tres-obcissant et fidel serviteur, 



her and the Duke of Wellington, whom I then see 
again. The coolness of his manner towards me. His 
attention to the young English lady. I am placed at 
dinner between him and the Due de Broglie. He is 
sullen at the beginning of dinner, but grows animated, 
and, finally, becomes very agreeable. I observe the 
annoyance of the young English lady, who is seated 
opposite to us. I cease talking to him, and devote myself 
entirely to the Due de Broglie. I see the duke very 
seldom. He comes to call on me at the Abbaye-aux-Bois 
on his last visit to Paris." 

Madame Recamier was undoubtedly flattered by the 
attention paid her by the duke, but Madame Lenormant 
tells us that, in spite of his fame, she did not find him 
" either animated or interesting," and, consequently, did 
not follow Madame de StaeTs advice " to obtain influence 
over him," " which," adds her enthusiastic niece, " without 
a doubt she could have easily gained." On his return to 
Paris after Waterloo, Wellington hastened to call upon 
her, but Madame Recamier's patriotism was wounded by 
his visit, and when, thinking that she would be delighted 
at the defeat of her old persecutor, Napoleon, the duke 
exclaimed, " Je fai bien battu" her aunt, if we are to 
believe Madame Lenormant, closed her doors against him 
in disgust. 

That same year, 1814, brought Madame Recamier 
another admirer in the person of Benjamin Constant, the 
famous orator and publicist, whose services she had engaged 
at the request of the Murats to plead the cause of their 
dynasty, the fate of which the Congress of Vienna was 
about to decide. Constant was a man of brilliant parts, 
but of a fickle and emotional temperament. Throughout 
his lite, ,ve are told, he was " subject to feminine influences, 



as varied as they were powerful." When little more than 
a boy, he lost his heart to Madame Charriere, to whom, 
according to M. Melegari, his latest biographer, he was in 
the habit of inditing " lettres seches et spirituelles" At 
twenty-three, he married a young German girl, whom he 
divorced three years later. He then became acquainted 
with Madame de Stael, and aspired to become her second 
husband, threatening to kill himself if she rejected his 
suit. The authoress of Corinne remained obdurate, 
however, in spite of his threats, and, instead of taking 
his life, Constant consoled himself by marrying a sister of 
Count Hardenberg, a lady who had already made two 
experiments in matrimony. Now, at forty-seven, he fell 
madly in love with Madame Recamier, and for many 
months bombarded her with love-letters, which, in point 
of absurdity, quite throw into the shade those which Lucien 
Bonaparte had penned fifteen years before. These lettei s 
have had a singular fate : they have been the subject of 
three law-suits. 

Soon after Madame Recamier's death, her niece, 
Madame Lenormant, to whom she had bequeathed all 
her letters and papers, with directions to utilise them 
" according as her judgment dictated," attempted to 
publish them. Both the Constant and the Recamier 
families objected, however, and sought and obtained an 
injunction restraining their publication. It was not until 
thirty years had passed that another attempt was made to 
give them to the world, this time with success, in spite 
of the renewed opposition of the two families. Then 
M. d'Estournelles, Benjamin Constant's great-nephew, 
feeling that their publication was scarcely calculated to 
increase his celebrated kinsman's reputation, claimed to be 
allowed to insert a preface, entreating the reader not to 



judge the publicist or the statesman by these epistles. But 
this application was also set aside by the courts ; and now 
all who care to do so may peruse Les Lettres de Benjamin 
Constant a Madame Recamier, a selection from which, as no 
English version of them has appeared, may not be without 
interest to the reader. 


" September 1814. 

" To-morrow evening ! To-morrow evening ! How 
much, how much that evening means to me ! For me it 
will commence at five o'clock in the morning. To-morrow ? 
; nay, it is to-day ! Thank God, yesterday is over. Nine 
o'clock will find me at your door. Perhaps I shall be told 
you are not in. In that case, I shall return between ten 
and eleven. 1 Shall I again be told that you are not at 
home ? I think of no one save you. For the last two 
days I seem to have seen no object but your face. All 
the past, all your fascination that I have always dreaded, has 
taken possession of my heart. I am speaking the truth, 
when I tell you, that I can scarcely breathe while I am 
writing to you. 

" I have but one thought ; you have willed that it 
should be so ; that thought is of you. Politics, society, 
everything is forgotten. Perhaps you think me mad ; but 
I recall your glance, I repeat to myself your words, I see 
again that girlish air so full of grace and refinement. I 
have reason for my madness I should be mad not to be 
so. Mon Dieu ! if you were not the most indifferent 
of women, what a life of suffering I might be spared ! To 
love is to suffer ; but it is also to live, and for a long 
time I have not lived. Once more, till this evening 1 " 

1 At this time Madame Recamier used to receive after the Opera. 



"SAINT CLAIR, October 2, 1814. 

" Forgive me for being so near you. 1 I will not come 
any nearer ; no one shall see me. I will shut myself up 
in my room at the inn, and there await your answer. I 
will wait six hours for one line in your writing, and then 
return to Paris. I cannot live without you. I wander 
about, wounded unto death, utterly incapable of recovering 
my strength. But I much prefer to tire myself out on 
horseback than to pine away in solitude, or in the midst 
of a world that no longer understands me, in which I have 
no longer any interest a world that does nothing but 
wonder at my wretchedness, and attribute it to the most 
ridiculous causes. I shall never get better, of that I 
am certain ; but I await the answer that is to relieve you 
of my presence here. Tell me to go, and you shall be no 
longer plagued by a man whose life and whose reason you 
have ruined in one short month. 

" Have you received the letter I wrote you yesterday ? 
If you have not got it yet, you can easily guess its contents. 
Had I your love, I should be able to endure everything, 
even absence. But I have no support, no consoling 
thought, and am dying of grief. Do you wish me to call 
to-morrow with Auguste 2 and Victor de Broglie ? 3 My 
doing so will excite no comment, and my refusal to come 
might attract more attention than my arrival would do. 
But, in that case, be kind enough to take a short walk with 
me, or let me have an hour's talk with you. 

1 Madame Recamier was staying with her friend Madame de Catellan 
at Angervilliers. St. Clair is a village a few miles from that town. 

2 Auguste de Stael, Madame de StaePs eldest son. 

3 The Due de Broglie, who married Albertine de Stael, Madame de 
StaeTs only daughter. 



" I am wearying you ; I am vexing you by my impor- 
tunity. If the dreadful obstacle with which you have 
threatened me is not to be overcome, I will go away. 
You shall see me no more. I must at any price spare you 
pain. Send me one word in answer to this, one line in 
your handwriting. Tell me if I may come. But do not 
let me come unless you have a word of comfort for me. 
Pardon again, and pity me. Never man loved as I love, 
or suffered as I suffer. Adieu ; I shall go back again as 
soon as my messenger returns. 

" If the others do not come, alas ! I shall not come 
any more." 

"October 1814. 

" I venture to remind you that you have promised to 
receive me alone to-day at four o'clock. It is absolutely 
necessary for me to speak to you about several matters ; 
and I have not had a moment in which to do so. I am 
going to ask your advice, and truly it is time I did so, for 
my life is ruined, and I have but one thought to speak 
to you, and you continually avoid me. However, ordinary 
friendship gives me the right to a few words of conversa- 
tion with you, and you will do me a service, a true service, 
in granting me those few words. You have given me 
two hours to discuss the business of the King of Naples. 1 
I ask you for one for myself. Condescend to give a 
thought to the state in which I am, and to the sufferings 
which I have been enduring for the last six weeks, and 
listen to me this once. 1 * 

1 The brochure written by Benjamin Constant in defence of the 
Murats appeared anonymously. It was cited in the English House of 
Commons during the debate on the affairs of Naples. Queen Caroline 
sent the author an honorarium of 20,000 francs and a decoration. He 

I'efused to accept either. 



" October 1814. 

" Was I sufficiently resigned to my fate yesterday ? 
Did I leave early enough, and have you deigned to give a 
thought to what I was bound to suffer ? However, if 
you will condescend to keep your promise, I will keep 
mine. I do not wish your kindness to me to cost you a 
single regret, and I feel bound to add to your happiness, 
even at the expense of my own. . . . One day, perhaps, 
you will be just ; to-day be happy, and be kind. 

" I am dining then with you. You have promised to 
allow me to come before dinner-time, for a moment's 
conversation, I hope. I want also to make my peace with 
M. Ballanche, whom I left rather abruptly while he was 
talking to me about his verses on Pythagoras. Have you 
read the letter I sent you yesterday? In each of my 
letters I ask you a thousand questions, but you never send 
a line in reply, neither do you refer to them when we 
meet. Thank Heaven, it is three o'clock, and M. de 
F is no longer at your house ! " 1 


" November 1814. 

"Acknowledge that you were fully aware of your 
power, and of the magical state of subjection to which 
you have reduced me, when I asked if you would be at 
home to any one this evening, and you replied, ' Not to 
you at any rate ' ! Mon Dieu ! what have I done to be 
treated like this, and yet not to have the courage to 
complain ? 

1 Comte Auguste de Forbin, a painter of some distinction, and 
Constant's rival in Madame Rccamier's affections. 



" ... I am going to spend at least three days without 
seeing you. I know not how I shall be able to endure them. 
Be kind to me to-day at least. From what people have 
said to me this evening, I am sure that those cruel pre- 
cautions which you insist on are quite unnecessary. No 
one has any suspicion of my real feelings towards you. 
They attribute my unhappiness to a totally different 
cause. I tell you again that my going to Angervilliers will 
not create the least scandal. Will you not allow me to 
escort you this morning a little way on your road ? Then 
I shall have a few minutes more in your society. At any 
rate, be kind to me. My terrible unhappiness has astonished 
everybody, and will end by ruining me. You have made 
me a trifle calmer. Do not spoil your own handiwork. 
Never was heart so devoted as mine. Try and do me 
some good. You can make of me what you will." 


" November 1814. 

" Is there, then, no answer to my letter ? 
" I cannot part from you under a misunderstanding like 
this. My miserable heart is breaking. One moment's 
conversation to cement a friendship which will last for 


" November 1814. 

" In Heaven's name, an answer ! Oh, that I might see 
you ! I will not speak to you about anything you object 
to. I have hardly sufficient strength to prevent myselt 
from fainting. As soon as I see you, I shall be better. 
Suffer me to see you, then, and be myself once more. Do 
not utterly crush a man, who has never done you any harm, 
and who was, a little time ago, a man of some distinction. 
One word, a quarter of an hour's talk, in God's name." 



"November 1814. 

" I am as grateful to you as if you had saved my life. 
As a matter of fact, for the last two hours I had ceased to 
live. I have been pacing up and down my room, catching 
hold of the furniture to prevent myself from rushing to 
your house, and a visitor who called was so terrified at 
the state of agitation in which he found me, that he 
advised me to consult a doctor for the affection of the 
nerves from which he imagined me to be suffering. Oh ! 
it is impossible to live devoured by such a passion. 

" You order me not to call to-day. I submit. Be 
grateful to me ; for, after this morning, I should have had 
indeed need to speak out, to cast myself at your feet, to 
implore you not to become what I am always fearing you 
will become when I am some time without seeing you. I 
can scarcely breathe ; but you have written to me at last, 
you have given a thought to me. 1 obey then. . . . 

" I should be able to see you between dinner-time and 
the ball ; but no ; I wish to prove to you that I can obey 
at whatever cost to myself. I am in Heaven in comparison 
with the condition in which I was an hour ago. For 
pity's sake do not kill me. I live on so little ! Never 
man loved or suffered as I do. To-morrow, then, at two 
o'clock. Accept my thanks for having rescued me from 
the frenzy which was consuming me. To-morrow, to- 
morrow ! I shall keep on repeating those words all day. 

" If you have any message for me, I shall be at home 
until just on six o'clock. You understand that I have not 
abandoned all hope of seeing you to-day. But no ; I will 
abandon it. My wish is to obey you. Till to-morrow ! 
Nevertheless, I shall stay at home until six o'clock." 




" November 14, 1814. 

" I believe that you do not read my letters : I implore 
you to read this one. It concerns my reason and my life 
matters of little importance to you but it also concerns 
a life which is more precious to you than mine. 

" It is five o'clock in the morning ; I have passed a 
night of hellish torment. You do not believe in my 
wretchedness ; it is far worse than anything that I can 
describe to you ; and if God were to permit me to die 
this instant, I should bless Him for His goodness. I 
pray fervently to Him to let me do so ; I ask only this 
favour of Him, for I hold life in abhorrence. But all this 
is of no consequence to you. Go on reading, however, I 
beg you. 

" You have sent me away at half-past eleven o'clock, 
when I might have remained with you without your 
suffering any inconvenience, without any person remarking 
it. When I am at your house in the company of other 
people, you send me away for fear that any one should be 
surprised at my remaining behind the others. You have 
sent me away when I have come to you, dolt that I was, 
my heart full of a foolish joy at having some pleasant 
little piece of news to relate to you. You don't wish to 
be alone with me, but I have found you alone with that 
man, whose name I have no wish to mention. You do 
not love me ; I know it. You interrupt me when I begin 
to speak ; your only desire is not to witness my grief. 
Were I to die while at a distance from you, it would 
rrouble you very little. 

' I am willing to relieve you of my presence ; I promise 
r ou I will do so. I have made all arrangements ; my 

145 * 


mind was made up long ago. But until then, in the name 
of that devotion which you despise, in the name of that 
heart which you are rending, out of pity for yourself, be 
kind to me, and do not show me, every time I see you, 
that I am as dirt in your eyes in comparison with the 
man against whom I can hardly contain myself. 1 

" I have no desire to kill him ; but my blood boils in 
my veins when I see him laughing at my folly, him, the 
scourge of my life, who has not dared to revenge himself 
upon me, and who has not had the courage to shed a 
single drop of his blood for your sake. I tell you, I have 
no desire to kill him. I wish to go away without taking 
vengeance for the frightful injury he has done me. But 
you do not understand me. In your presence I am timid ; 
I pretend to be cheerful in order not to displease you ; 
but despair is in my heart, and all my reason has forsaken 
me. I love no one save you. I live only for your sake ; 
the rest is agony and convulsion. Suffer me during the 
few the very few days I shall be here to see you and 
speak to you freely. Then I shall look forward to the 
day of my departure ; 1 shall welcome it with joy as a last 
resource, and, if it fails me, at any rate, I shall die far 
away from you, which is all you care about. 

" But I can control myself no longer. You do not 
wish me to take vengeance. Condescend, then, to give 
me some reason for renouncing it. You have promised 
me an hour this morning and one this evening, the same 
as you have given that man. In God's name do not 
disappoint me. I love you madly : forgive me for doing 
so. You are everything to me on this earth. Consider 
that, if you repulse me, I have nothing in the world to lose. 

1 M. de Forbin. Constant challenged him to a duel, but Madame 
Recamier interfered, and the meeting did not take place. 


If your door is closed to me, I know where that man's is, 
and one of us shall not cross the threshold alive. Pardon 
me for writing such a letter ; it is the expression of the 
most awful suffering ; it is dictated by the desire to spare 
you pain. Do not be afraid of my complaints. When I 
am with you a single word is sufficient to reduce me to 
submission. I will speak of nothing that you do not 
wish me to speak of. But bear with me, tolerate me, until 
my departure, which I shall take care to hasten. 

"Believe me, I am making a sacrifice for your sake. 
After the happiness of possessing you, the desire that is 
nearest my heart is to kill the man who has ruined my life, 
and afterwards to die. Forgive me, once again. I know 
not what I am writing. I will relieve you of the burden 
of my presence, do not doubt it. This devotion which 
annoys you, this love which wearies you, I, in short, whom 
you loathe, all shall vanish away." 


"December 14, 1814. 

" Here is a letter from Madame de Catellan, which I 
enclose to show you that other people find some pleasure 
in my society. I stand in precisely the same position in 
regard to you as a certain lady once stood to me. She 
used, also, to send me the pathetic letters which people 
wrote to her ; but you are not in the position in which 
I was placed. She demanded that I should break my bonds, 
and forsake the person to whom I was legally bound. I do 
not demand of you anything of the kind. To-night, 
during which I have again examined the evidence of my 
frenzy, has proved to me that all I require is to see you, 

Iind talk to you freely for a few minutes every day or 
svery other day. In the name of morality, religion, and 


conscience, you cannot refuse me : that is the only way to 
calm me, and to calm me completely for the time being. I 
only saw you for a moment this morning, and I have 
gathered sufficient strength to last me till this evening. 
If I can talk to you for a quarter of an hour this evening 
about the plan I propose trying, I shall have sufficient to 
last me until to-morrow. But I swear to you that, strive as 
I may, it will be dangerous for you to refuse this request. 
I shall, on my part, do my utmost to cure myself, but I 
have not sufficient strength. You alone can give it me. 
I will be so cheerful, so self-contained, and so pleasant, that 
I shall be able to prevent your self-sacrifice being too 
trying a one. But consider, I implore you, that it is not 
by spurning the passion that overwhelms my heart that 
you will cure me ; but by doing exactly the contrary." 


"BRUSSELS, November 8, 1815. 

"... My despair at your silence has caused me to 
make a mistake so ridiculous that, in spite of all my sadness, 
I am unable to keep from laughing. I had begun a letter 
to you with these words : * I warn you that your neglect 
is driving me to despair, and that I shall not live unless 
you come to my help. Have a care for yourself also. 
Neither you nor I know what death means, and when you 
have driven me to it, &c.' I had, at the same time, written 
to M. Meuss, a correspondent of M. Recamier, asking him 
to take care of some property of mine during my journey 
to Hanover. In the agitated state in which I was I 
mistook the letters, and I sent to M. Meuss the one 
intended for you. Fortunately he had gone out, and I 
have been able to get back my letter. But when I picture 
to myself the worthy banker receiving my letter, and 


reading that his forgetfulness was driving me out of my 
senses, and that I should kill myself if he neglected me, I 
cannot think of his astonishment without laughing." 

As none of Madame Recamier's letters to Constant 
have been preserved, we have no means of ascertaining 
on what sort of fuel this devouring flame was nourished. 
Madame Lenornunt, as might be expected, denies that 
her aunt gave her importunate adorer " the slightest 
encouragement," and, immediately afterwards, naively 
admits that "at their first interview Madame Recamier 
exerted herself to please, and succeeded but too well." 
An extract from Constant's diary, which St.-Beuve quotes 
in his Derniers Portraits, confirms this : 

" Madame Recamier takes it into her head to make me 
fall in love with her. I am forty-seven years of age. 
Rendezvous which she gives me under the pretext of 
some business relating to Murat. Her manner to me 
that evening. ' Dare to make love to me ! ' says she. I 
leave her house madly in love. My whole life is bouleversee. 
Invitation to Anger villiers. Coquetry and cruelty of 
Madame Recamier. I am the most wretched of men. 
My frightful mental sufferings prevent me from writing 
a line of common sense. I am beginning to lose money 
at play, because I can think of nothing but Madame 
Rdcamier." * 

The Due de Broglie, too, declares that Madame 
Recamier carried on a " coque tier ie flagr ante " with Benjamin 
Constant and Auguste de Forbin at the same time ; and 
that at a bal masque, at which, contrary to the usual 
custom, the men as well as the ladies wore masks, she, 

1 Constant was a terrible gambler. In his Journal Intimt he speato 
of winning and losing as much as 30,000 francs at a sitting. 



much to his surprise, singled him out for special preference, 
so that, as he was in disguise, Constant thought he was 
Forbin, and Forbin thought he was Constant, and were 
both consumed with jealousy on account of the favour 
which each thought was being shown to his rival. 1 

Truth, therefore, compels us reluctantly to admit that 
Madame Recamier did flirt outrageously with Constant, 
though, probably, not more so than with a score of other 
men. And we should also remember before condemning 
her that Madame Recamier was not an ordinary flirt. 
Like Madame de Sevigne, she possessed the rare talent of 
being able to persuade a lover to be content with friend- 
ship ; and Constant's case is, perhaps, the only one in 
which any of her innumerable adorers suffered for their 
infatuation. If any persons had a right to complain of 
her conduct, they were the wives of some of her married 
admirers; but, then, les convenances entered so largely 
into French matrimonial unions in those days, and madame 
was generally so very complacent a lady, that we question 
whether, even in this quarter, very much harm was done. 

With regard to Constant, it would appear probable 
that Madame Recamier for once overrated her power of 
changing the lover into the friend, and that, when she 
became conscious of the desperate passion with which she 
had inspired him, she was afraid to repulse him too 
abruptly lest he should really destroy himself, as he was 
perpetually threatening to do. Madame Recamier, 
however, in later life, admitted that she had treated Constant 
badly, and she wished his letters to her to be published 
after her death in order to justify him. But, when we 
take into consideration the fact that Constant had on at 
least one occasion attempted to commit suicide, when a 

1 Due de Broglie's Souvenirs, i. 288. 


lady had rejected his addresses ; and that he was the 
creator of Adolphe, who expounds the publicist's own 
views with regard to the relation of the sexes, and is 
surely one of the most worthless scamps to be met with 
in fiction, we cannot believe that he is entitled to any 
large amount of sympathy. 

When, in March 1815, all Europe was astounded at 
the news of Napoleon's return from Elba, and the emigres, 
lately so exultant, fled like naughty schoolboys when their 
master's step is heard returning to the schoolroom, 
Madame Recamier courageously refused to voluntarily 
exile herself, and remained in Paris, though Madame de 
Stael besought her to fly with her to Coppet, and the 
Queen of Naples wrote offering her an asylum in that 

" We are very tranquil here," wrote the queen. " Our 
people love us, and we love them. A change of govern- 
ment, moreover, would involve acts of vengeance and 
other calamities. They dread more than ever anything 
that may tend to bring back Ferdinand." 

Poor Queen Caroline little knew that, at the very 
moment she was penning this letter, her husband was 
meditating that act of criminal folly which was to cost 
him both his throne and life. 

When the Congress of Vienna met, the previous year, 
Murat soon found that his removal from the throne of 
Naples was one of the principal objects of France ; and 
neither the solemn treaty with Austria, into which he had 
entered, with so many misgivings, while Madame Reca- 
mier was at Naples, nor the old affection of Metternich 
for Caroline, nor the brilliant causistry of Benjamin 
Constant were likely to prove serious obstacles to its 


Furious at finding that his treachery to his old master 
and benefactor was likely to prove unavailing, Murat no 
sooner heard of Napoleon's landing than he turned round 
once more, and, with incredible rashness, led his army 
against the Austrians. He advanced as far as the Po, 
but was utterly routed by the Imperialists under Neipperg, 
afterwards the second husband of Marie Louise, at Tolen- 
tino, and compelled to fly to France. Napoleon, however, 
had not forgiven him for his desertion in 1814, and not 
only refused to see him, but gave orders that he was to 
leave French territory at once. 

Murat then went to Corsica, where he remained in 
hiding for some weeks, refusing Metternich's offer of an 
asylum provided he would pledge his word not to leave 
the Austrian dominions. In the autumn he landed in 
Calabria, with the intention of making an effort to recover 
his kingdom, but was taken prisoner, and, after a mockery 
of a trial by a court-martial, shot on October 13. "He 
died as he had lived," says Bourrienne, " a brave but 
theatrical man, with his last breath giving the order to 
the firing party to spare his face." l 

Madame Recamier was probably strengthened in her 
resolution to remain in Paris by a letter she received at 
this time from her friend Queen Hortense, promising to 
intercede for her with the Emperor should the occasion 
arise. She had no reason to regret her decision, for 
Napoleon, even if he was aware of her presence, thought 
it best to ignore it, and left her in peace. 

Few people had more cause to dread Napoleon's return 

than had Madame Recamier's infatuated slave Benjamin 

Constant. He had been banished for his opposition to 

him during the Consulate ; he had fought against him, 

1 Bourrienne's Memoirs of Napoleon, iv. 289. 


and had treated him more roughly in his brochure De 
FEsprit de Conquete than even Chateaubriand had done in 
De Bonaparte etdes Bourbons. To crown all, on March 19, 
the same day that Louis XVIII. fled from Paris, there 
appeared over Constant's well - known signature in the 
Journal des Debats a violent article, in which Napoleon 
was compared to Attila and Genghis Khan, and which 
concluded with the words that have become historical : 

" I have seen that liberty is possible under a monarchy. 
I have seen the people rallying round the king. I will 
not, like a miserable turncoat, crawl from one power to 
another, cover my infamy with sophistry, and stammer 
out profane words to ransom a shameful life." 

It has been repeatedly asserted that Constant wrote this 
article solely to please Madame Recamier, and a letter he 
sends her the next day, in which, after telling her that a 
few days will see him either a proscribed fugitive or the 
occupant of a dungeon, and begging her to give him a 
little of her time in the meanwhile, he concludes by asking 
her if she is satisfied with what he has written in the 
DebatS) seems to confirm this ; while the Due de Broglie 
declares that he saw Constant strutting up and down 
Madame Recamier's salon, brandishing the newspaper 
containing his famous article in the face of his rival 
Forbin, as if challenging him to emulation of his reckless 

Before Napoleon reached Paris, however, Constant, 
yielding to the entreaties of his friends, fled to Nantes, 
with the intention of taking ship for England. But, when 
he arrived there, the dictates of his heart appear to have 
got the better of the counsels of prudence. " To live 
perhaps for years," says his biographer, M. Melegari, 
44 without again beholding her who had caused him so much 



misery proved too much for his courage. He preferred 
to brave every danger, and to return to Paris." 1 

On his return a temptation, for which he was in no 
way prepared, was awaiting him. Napoleon, instead of 
demanding his head, began to make overtures to him on 
the basis of constitutional liberty. He was sent for to 
the Tuileries, greeted as cordially by the Emperor as if 
he had been one of his most devoted adherents, and 
invited to draw up a plan of constitutional government. 
A few days later, the Moniteur announced that Benjamin 
Constant had become one of the Emperor's Councillors of 

The result of this reconciliation between the publicist 
and his old enemy was the Acte Additionnel, which pleased 
no one save a few doctrinaires ^ and was called by the 
Parisians in derision "Le Benjaminisme" 

Poor Benjamin Constant has been held up to odium 
both by his contemporaries and by historians on account 
of these remarkable tergiversations ; but we are inclined 
to think that he has been too hardly used. If it is 
admitted that his article in the Debats was inspired 
entirely by the desire to propitiate Madame Recamier 
which is probably the case then there was nothing very 
remarkable in his attaching himself to Napoleon, for, as a 
staunch supporter of liberty, he might very well have 
imagined that there was a better chance of constitutional 
government under a restored Napoleon, who might be 
inclined to profit by bitter experience, than under a 
restored Louis, surrounded by fanatical priests and 
revengeful emigres. Constant, moreover, was a curious 
compound of generosity, ambition, and vanity, and he was 
as wax in the hands of so keen a judge of human nature 
1 Introduction to Benjamin Constant's Journal Intime > p. 52. 


as Napoleon, who seems to have succeeded with very little 
difficulty in convincing him of his good faith, and of his 
need of his assistance in carrying out the proposed 
reforms. 1 

Very different was the reception which the Emperor's 
overtures met with from another of Madame R6camier's 
friends Madame de Statil to whom he wrote begging 
her to return to Paris " as her presence was required for 
constitutional ideas." " You have done without a Con- 
stitution or me for twelve years," she replied, " and even 
now you are not fonder of one than the other." 

But, however strong may have been Constant's love of 
liberty, however great his ambition and vanity, they were 
as dust in the balance in comparison with his hopeless 
passion for Madame Recamier. A few days after he had 
decided to throw in his lot with the Emperor, and had 
accepted office at his hands, we find him writing to 
Madame Recamier offering to resign his post the next 
day if such was her will. 

Could anything be more abject ? 

1 " Benjamin writes to Madame de Stael that he firmly believes that 
he will establish a liberal Constitution, and that a change has come over 
Bonaparte." CHARLES CONSTANT to his sister ROSALU, April 17, 1815. 



Madame de Krudener Her early life Valerie Her con- 
version Her extraordinary ascendency over the Emperor 
Alexander His visits to her at the Hotel Montchenu Un- 
successful efforts of Talleyrand and Metternich to counteract 
her influence Her evening seances become the fashion 
Chateaubriand's opinion of her Her sympathy for Benjamin 
Constant Her friendship with Madame Recamier Proposes 
to establish a " lien fame " between Constant and Madame 
Recamier But fails Constant becomes a mystic And a 
devil-worshipper The Due de Broglie's account of his con- 
duct Madame de Krudener goes to Switzerland Her letter 
to Madame Recamier Her last years and death Madame 
de Stae'l returns to Paris Popularity of her receptions Her 
illness and death 

WHEN the allied sovereigns returned to Paris after Water- 
loo, there came with them Madame de Krudener, " the 
keeper of the Emperor Alexander's conscience," and one 
of the most remarkable women of the period. This lady, 
who was the widow of Baron de Krudener, a distinguished 
Russian diplomatist, had been an extremely beautiful 
and fascinating woman, and, although now past middle 
life, still retained something of her former charms. She 
had at one time resided in Paris, where she had mixed in 
the gayest society, and had achieved a considerable literary 
reputation by the publication of a remarkable novel called 
Valerie, " a work," says Sainte-Beuve, " of prodigious 



success in the highest circles in France v and Germany, and 
which can be read three times in a lifetime in youth, 
middle age, and old age." l This book is generally 
believed to have been a record of her own early married 
life, which had been by no means a blameless one, although 
her husband who, it may be mentioned, as an illustration 
of the lax morality of the time, had been twice married 
and twice divorced before he met her had treated her 
with a forbearance hardly conceivable in our own age, and 
had refused to avail himself of his legal remedy. Madame 
de Krudener, however, in spite of her frailty, seems to have 
been the possessor of a naturally sensitive conscience, 
which never allowed her to rest content with her frivolous 

1 The phenomenal success which Valerie met with in Paris was due 
in no small measure to the singular manoeuvres in which its authoress 
indulged in order to advertise it. " For several days she made the 
rounds of the fashionable shops, asking sometimes for shawls, some- 
times for hats, feathers, wreaths, or ribbons, all a la Valerie. When 
they saw this beautiful and elegant stranger alight from her carriage, 
and inquire for fancy articles which she invented on the spur of the 
moment, the shopkeepers were seized with a polite desire to oblige her 
by every means in their power. Moreover, the lady would soon 
pretend to recognise the articles she had asked for ; and if the unfor- 
tunate shop-girls, confused by such unusual demands, seemed puzzled 
and denied all knowledge of the article, Mme. de Krudener would smile 
graciously, and commiserate them for their ignorance of the new book, 
thus converting them all into eager readers of Valerie. Then, laden 
with her purchases, she would drive off to another establishment, 
pretending to search for things which only existed in her imagination. 
Thanks to these manoeuvres she succeeded in arousing such ardent 
competition in honour of her heroine that, for at least a week, the 
shops sold everything a la Valerie. Her own friends, the innocent 
accomplices of her stratagem, also paid visits to shops on her recom- 
mendation, thus carrying the fame of her book through the Faubourg 
St. Germain and the Chaussee d'Antin." Eynard's Vie de Madame de 
Krudener, i. 136. 



surroundings ; and, on her return to her estates in Livonia, 
in 1805, her sense of the vanity of earthly things gradually 
deepened, and she became a member of the Moravian 
community. In 1808 she fell under the influence of 
Jung Stilling and Oberlin, and ultimately resolved to 
adopt the vocation of an itinerant preacher. 

Her obvious sincerity, her intellectual attainments, and 
her social position enabled her to command attention 
wherever she went, especially in Switzerland, where she 
made many converts. At Heilbronn, in the spring of 
1815, she obtained an audience of the Emperor Alexander, 
and rapidly acquired a most extraordinary ascendency over 
the mind of that somewhat impressionable monarch, who, 
although he had not escaped unscathed the contamination 
of the immoral Russian Court, had never abandoned his 
early religious convictions, and had for years been seeking 
some more satisfying spiritual consolation than the 
lifeless, though gorgeous, services of his own Church 

On his return to Paris, the change which had come over 
the hitherto gay and pleasure-loving sovereign was at 
once apparent, and caused the most unbounded astonish- 
ment. Whereas, during his previous visit, Alexander 
had mixed freely in society, where he had been the gayest 
of the gay, he now eschewed every form of private enter- 
tainment, and abstained, as far as possible, even from 
official festivities. While the Empress was absent in 
England he shut himself up in his apartments at the 
Elysee Bourbon, where he devoted himself to State 
business and devotional exercises, and received only those 
whom it was impossible to exclude. His reason in thus 
temporarily retiring from the world seems to have been a 
sense of his inability to resist the temptations with which he 



was surrounded. "Pray for me," he said one evening to 
Madame de Kriidener; "pray to the Almighty to strengthen 
me against the evil influences of this city. Up to the 
present I have resisted its seductions, but man is so weak, 
that unless he is sustained by grace, he succumbs to the 
temptations which beset him on every side. I feel the 
necessity of avoiding society ; that is the reason I asked 
for a retired residence. In the apartment which I occupy 
I find a great deal of peace ; I work, 1 study the Scriptures, 
I commune with God in prayer, and I put my trust in 
His merciful and tender protection in all that He helps 
me to avoid." 

Every alternate evening, as soon as his official duties 
would permit, Alexander, accompanied only by a single 
servant, used to walk across from the Elysee Bourbon to 
the Hotel Montchenu, in the Faubourg St. Honore, where 
Madame de Kriidener was staying ; and was received by 
his spiritual directress in a little sitting-room, adjoining the 
salon, in which she was accustomed to receive those who 
desired to confer with her privately on religious matters. 
Here the Czar frequently remained until a very late hour, 
the time being spent in prayer and in the study of the 
Bible. By his express wish, Madame de Kriidener always 
spoke to the Autocrat of All the Russias as freely as she 
would have done to the humblest of her disciples. " Do 
not be afraid, madame," he would exclaim when sometimes 
the lady hesitated, fearing that her enthusiasm was carrying 
her too far. " Scold me well, and by God's grace I will 
carry out all your instructions/* 

On Sundays Madame de Kriidener had a place reserved 
for her in a room overlooking the Emperor's private 
chapel, in the Elysee Bourbon, where, with her features 
concealed by a white veil, she remained throughout the 



service in order that her soul might be united in prayer 
with that of her royal disciple. 

The intimate relations which existed between the 
Emperor and Madame de Kriidener, as may well be 
supposed, speedily became the talk of Paris, and gave rise 
to many conflicting rumours. The diplomatists at that 
time assembled in the French capital were naturally much 
exercised in their minds as to the real significance of this 
unexpected development, and had recourse to all the 
private sources of information at their disposal in order to 
unravel the mystery. That the connection was anything 
but an ordinary intrigue they at first refused to believe ; 
and when, at length, they were assured that it was one of 
a purely religious character, their scorn and astonishment 
knew no bounds. However, they were fully alive to the 
important political consequences which might follow these 
evening seances; and both Talleyrand and his rival 
Metternich, fraternising for the nonce in the face of a 
common danger, laid their heads together to discover 
some means to wean the Czar from his allegiance to 
his middle-aged enchantress. To this end the most 
renowned beauties of Paris and Vienna were pressed into 
the service of the astute diplomatists, and paraded for 
the delectation of the Russian monarch. But in vain 
was the net spread : Alexander rose superior to all such 

Although at this period unbelief was rampant in 
Paris, its volatile citizens, like the Athenians in the 
time of St. Paul, dearly loved novelty in whatever form 
it might be offered to them ; and when, in July 
1815, Madame de Kriidener threw open the doors of 
the Hotel de Montchenu to all her friends, rich and 
poor alike, who cared to take part in her evangelistic 

1 60 


services, numbers of people drawn thither either by 
curiosity or interest flocked to the house. 

Here in a salon, destitute of all furniture save a few 
rush-bottomed chairs and a plain deal table, they were 
received by their hostess, who was habited, not in majestic 
sacerdotal robes, as certain chroniclers of those times have 
depicted her, but in a dark woollen gown, cut in the 
extreme of simplicity. The services, which began at 
seven o'clock in the evening, were conducted by Empaytaz, 
a young divine who shared her wanderings, and consisted 
of an extempore prayer and an exposition of a portion of 
the Scriptures. Madame de Kriidener herself usually 
knelt among the crowd, and took no prominent part in 
the service, but was always ready to confer with those 
who might wish to consult her in private. As her fame 
spread, these private interviews became so numerous that 
at length she could scarcely find leisure for food or rest. 

Among the throng of notable people who, from different 
motives, attended these services were Chateaubriand, 
Benjamin Constant, Baron de Gerando, the philanthropist, 
Grgoire, Bishop of Blois, the Duchesse de Bourbon, and 
Princess Sophia Volkonski. 

Chateaubriand, who had been on intimate terms with 
the evangelist during her former residence in Paris, seems 
to have been attracted to the Hotel Montchenu more by 
the remembrance of their old friendship, and, possibly, also, 
as the lady's latest biographer suggests, by the hope of 
entering into personal relations with the Czar, than by any 
sympathy with her religious methods. " I infinitely pre- 
ferred Madame de Kriidener," he says, " when, surrounded 
with flowers, and an inhabitant of this miserable world, she 
composed Valerie" 

Constant, however, carried away with him a very 

161 L 


different impression. He had known Madame de Kriidener 
in Switzerland, and was now a frequent visitor at her 
house, "an unchanged Adolphe in the presence of a 
regenerated Valerie." 

To Madame Recamier, after one of these visits, he 
writes as follows : 

" I have spent the whole day alone, and I only went out 
in order to call on Madame de Kriidener. The excellent 
woman ! She does not know all, but she sees that I am 
devoured by some frightful grief. She kept me three 
hours in order to console me. She told me to pray for 
those who caused me to suffer, and to offer up my 
sufferings in expiation for them if they were in need of 
the sacrifice." 

It may readily be imagined that it was not long before 
Madame Recamier found herself drawn to the Hotel de 
Montchenu, and a warm friendship sprang up between 
these two women, each so supreme in her own particular 
sphere. Unfortunately Madame Recamier's presence seems 
to have occasionally diverted attention from graver matters, 
and, accordingly, Benjamin Constant was deputed by 
Madame de Kriidener to write to her on the subject. 

" I acquit myself with no little embarrassment," he 
says, " of a commission which Madame de Kriidener has 
just given me. She begs that you will come to her house 
with as few charms as possible. She says that you dazzle 
every one present, and, consequently, all hearts are 
troubled, and all real attention becomes impossible. You 
cannot divest yourself of your beauty, but, pray, do not 
enhance it." 

Madame de Kriidener, however, in spite of this gentle 
remonstrance, attached no little importance to the presence 
of the celebrated beauty at her gatherings, and was as, 



anxious for her conversion as Mathieu de Montmorency 
had been. 

Benjamin Constant, as we have said, was one of the 
most frequent of Madame de Kriidener's visitors. The 
evangelist was of an intensely sympathetic nature, and felt 
great compassion for Benjamin Constant, bowed down as 
he was under the weight of the universal reprobation 
which his extraordinary conduct during the Hundred Days 
had brought upon him, and a prey to fits of bitter 
irony and morbid self-abasement. Encouraged by her 
sympathy, it was not long before he made her the 
confidante of his unfortunate love-affair, whereupon she 
promised him her help to establish between him and the 
object of his attachment what Constant, in his Journal 
Intime, calls a " lien d'dme" x 

Whatever results the publicist may have been led to 
expect from this mysterious connection, it is clear that 
they were not realised, for, a few days later, he writes in 
the same interesting autobiography : " Alas ! Madame 
de Kriidener has not been a prophetess, for Juliette has 
never treated me more shamefully. Yesterday she gave 
me four rendezvous, not one of which did she keep ; and 
this evening I have found her a chef-cTceuvre of coquetry, 
deceit, vanity, hypocrisy, and affectation." 2 

The unhappy man at this time appears to have been 
going through a further transformation. Under the 
influence of his Russian friend he became a mystic. 
" He used," says the Due de Broglie, " to spend whole 
nights in the salon of Madame de Kriidener, in company 
with other new converts, sometimes praying on his knees, 
at other times stretched on the floor in fits of ecstasy; 

1 Benjamin Constant's Journal Intime, p. 146. 
* Ibid. p. 147. 


all to no purpose, for what he used to ask of God, God 
occasionally permits in his wrath, but regards with abhor- 
rence. Being in love with Madame Recamier, who, 
though already on the turn of life, was still beautiful, 
Benjamin Constant begged of God to turn the lady's 
heart in his favour, and, as God was deaf to his prayers, 
the lover made up his mind to apply to the devil, which 
was more natural." 1 The duke further relates how one 
dark, stormy night, while Constant, Auguste de Stae'l, and 
himself were returning from Angervilliers, where they had 
been visiting Madame de Catellan, Constant took them 
into his confidence with regard to the efforts he had been 
making to strike a bargain with the enemy of mankind. 
At first they felt inclined to laugh, but as Constant pro- 
ceeded, he gave the two young men such an insight into 
his distracted soul, that any wish to make fun of him 
entirely disappeared. 

However, prayers and incantations were alike unavailing, 
and after 1815 we hear very little of Constant in connec- 
tion with Madame Recamier. " At the end of eighteen 
months," says his sympathetic biographer, who, by the 
way, seems unnecessarily severe on the object of the pub- 
licist's misplaced affections, " his passion extinguished it- 
self, like a fire which has burned too rapidly and received 
no fuel, leaving Adolphe ashamed of himself, wretched, 
embittered." 2 

In September, 1815, the Emperor Alexander set out on 
his return to Russia, and shortly afterwards Madame 
de Krudener left Paris for Switzerland, whence she wrote ' 
the following characteristic letter to Madame Recamier : 

1 Due de Broglie's Souvenirs, i. 286. 

8 Introduction to Benjamin Constant's Journal Intime, p. 56, 




" BERNE, November 12, 1815. 

" How I long to have news of you, dear and lovely 
friend, and how interested I am in you and your happi- 
ness, which will not be assured until you give yourself up 
wholly to God. This is what I ask of Him when, pros- 
trated before the God of mercy, I invoke Him on your 
behalf. He has touched your heart ; and that heart, 
which all the illusions and all the good things of the 
world have not been able to satisfy, has heard the call. 
No ; you will not hesitate, dear friend. The trials which 
you often experience, the hollowness of the world, and 
the need of something great, infinite, and eternal which 
from time to time alarms and agitates you, all tell 
me that you will declare yourself altogether on the right 
side. I beseech you to be true to those great impulses 
which you are experiencing, and not to allow yourself to 
be diverted from them. An agonising grief would be the 
result of this lapse from grace. Ask at the feet of Christ 
for the faith of divine love ; ask, and you shall receive, 
and a holy fear will inform you how great is the life, and 
how infinite the love of the Saviour, who died to save us 
from the just punishment for sin, which every one of us 
has deserved. Ah ! if one could but look upon our God, 
who made Himself man in order to die for us if we 
could look upon Him with broken heart, and weep at 
the foot of the Cross for not having loved Him. Far 
from rejecting us, His arms will open to receive us ; He 
will pardon us, and we shall know that peace which the 
world cannot give. 

"What is that poor Benjamin 1 doing? On leaving 

1 Benjamin Constant. 



Pans I wrote him again a few lines, and sent him some 
messages for you, dear friend. Did you not receive them ? 
How is he getting on ? You must be very charitable to 
a sick man much to be pitied, and you must pray for him. 
Our journey has been a pleasant one, thank God ! 
Switzerland rests me ; it is so lovely, and so tranquil in 
the midst of this distracted Europe. I have the happiness 
of having my son 1 at Berne, and we make the most 
delightful expeditions, and have the most affectionate 
talks together, for we love each other dearly. ... I do 
not despair of seeing you among the Alps, which are 
worth all the salons in the world. 

" Write to me at Basle, dear friend ; direct your letter 
to me, care of M. Kellner. Tell me everything, putting 
your trust in my tender affection. Have you seen 
M. Delbel? 2 He is a most excellent man. I am very 
anxious Benjamin 3 should see him. 

" Kind regards from my daughter and myself, 


" Once more, dear friend, I commend our poor Benja- 
min to your kind heart. It is a sacred duty." 

Poor Madame de Kriidener's last years were clouded 
with disappointment. Her religious activity was by no 
means favourable to established church order, while the 
civil authorities of the various countries which she visited 
were, not unnaturally, prejudiced against her by the vast 
crowds of idle and clamorous beggars which her indis- 
criminate charity drew after her wherever she went. After 
being directed to withdraw from one German state after 

1 Baron de Krudener, Russian Minister to the Swiss Confederation. 
* Cure of Clichy. 8 Benjamin Constant. 



another, she became discouraged, and, in 1818, finally 
retired into private life on her estates at Riga. 

In 1820 she visited St. Petersburg, where she had the 
mortification to find that her influence with the Czar had 
not survived their five years separation. The cruel and 
crafty Arakche"fefF and the monk Photius had, in the 
interim, supplanted her in Alexander's esteem, and suc- 
ceeded in inducing that generous-hearted but vacillating 
sovereign to reverse both his political and religious policy. 
The consequence was that when Madame de Kriidener 
appealed openly to her former disciple to fulfil his obliga- 
tions as a Christian monarch, and assist in liberating his 
co-religionists in Greece from the intolerable Moslem 
yoke, she was commanded to remain silent or leave St. 
Petersburg. She chose the latter alternative, and on 
Christmas morning, 1824, died at Karasu-Baza, in the 
Crimea, whither she had gone to recruit her health, which 
had been entirely shattered by the arduous nature of her 
evangelistic labours. Less than a year later the Emperor 
Alexander followed her to the grave. 

Madame de Stael, unlike the majority of Madame 
Rcamier's friends, had not returned to the capital after 
the battle of Waterloo had settled once and for all the 
fate of their old enemy. She had spent the winter and 
spring of 1815-16 in Italy, in the hope that the mild 
climate might be beneficial to her young husband Rocca, 
whose health had been gradually becoming worse ; but at 
length, in the autumn of 1 8 1 6, she reappeared in Paris, 
where her salon was soon crowded with representative men 
of all parties, and the most distinguished foreigners who 
were then in the city. " Madame de Stael had," says one 
of her guests, " the rare talent, perhaps, never possessed by 



any other person of uniting around her the most distin- 
guished individuals of all the opposite parties, literary and 
political, and making them establish relations among 
themselves which they could not afterwards entirely shake 
, off. There might be found Wellington and Lafayette ; 
, Chateaubriand, Talleyrand, and Prince Laval ; Humboldt 
and Blucher from Berlin ; Constant and Sismondi from 
Switzerland ; the two Schlegels from Hanover ; Canova 
from Italy ; the beautiful Madame Rcamier, and the 
admirable Duchesse de Duras ; and from England, such a 
multitude, that it seemed like a general emigration of 
British talent and rank." l 

But, alas ! it soon became apparent to her sorrowing 
friends that the days of the authoress of Corinne were 
numbered. Madame de StaeTs health had been greatly 
weakened by her flight from Coppet to Russia, immedi- 
ately after the birth of the child of her second marriage ; 
and the alarm and fatigue which her sudden journey to 
Switzerland to escape the returning Emperor occasioned, 
had completely shattered it. Little by little her health 
became worse, and at length she was compelled to keep 
her bed. 

Still her faculties remained unimpaired. Every morn- 
ing, as soon as she woke, her maid brought her her writing 
materials, and she wrote in bed till noon ; and afterwards 
received the visits of her most intimate friends. Her 
daughter, the Duchesse de Broglie, by her express wish, 
received in her place the usual company, and would often 
slip up to the sick-room to report any bon-mot or especially 
interesting piece of news which she had heard during the 

The gay world of Paris showed no lack of sympathy 

1 Child's " Madame de Stael," p. 71. 



with the suffering of its most distinguished representative. 
Her house was besieged with callers. Members of the 
Royal family made daily inquiries after her health, and 
Wellington came himself every day to ask how she fared. 
She was to the last full of sympathy for fellow sufferers, 
and the day after her death a condemned man named 
Barry, for whom she had made intercession, was pardoned 
by the King. She expired without pain at five o'clock 
on the morning of July 14, 1817, at the age of fifty-one. 
Her young husband, Rocca, survived her but six months. 
His bereavement greatly aggravated his malady : after the 
funeral he went to the Riviera to endeavour to find 
relief, and died at Hyeres in the following January. 



Madame Recamier's meeting with Chateaubriand His early 
life His visit to America His marriage He joins the emigres 
He is wounded and escapes to England His terrible priva- 
tions His love affair with Miss Ives His Essai sur les 
Revolutions He returns to France Atala Le Genie du 
Christianisme Great influence of this work He is sent as 
attache to Rome And as envoy to the Valais He resigns and 
opposes Napoleon Napoleon's opinion of him He goes to 
the East His Itineraire and Les Martyrs Rene He is 
elected to the Institute His address Fury of the Emperor 
against him He is ordered to leave Paris His pamphlet 
De Bonaparte et des Bourbons Its extraordinary influence on 
the course of events He accompanies Louis XVIII. to Ghent 
during the Hundred Days He listens to the cannon of 
Waterloo His opposition to the Government after the Second 
Restoration His personal appearance His attraction for 
women His admiration for Madame Recamier reciprocated 
Ballanche and Mathieu de Montmorency oppose their 
intimacy But without success 

IT was at the deathbed of Madame de Stae'l that Madame 
Recamier renewed an acquaintance, made some years before, 
with a person who was destined to more than fill the place 
of the beloved friend she was about to lose. 

Francois Ren6 de Chateaubriand was born at St. Malo 
on September 4, 1768 just three weeks after the birth of 
Napoleon the youngest son of Comte Rene de Chateau- 
briand, the head of one of the most ancient families in 



Brittany. Even as a boy, he was of a restless, dreamy, 
melancholy disposition, a temperament which he seems to 
have inherited from his father whose habitual state of 
mind, he tells us, was one of profound sadness and which 
was doubtless intensified by his picturesque surroundings, 
and the quaint legends and superstitions of the Breton 
country-folk among whom his childhood was passed. 

He was educated at Dol, Rennes, and at a theological 
seminary at Dinan, and seems to have at one time enter- 
tained some idea of entering the priesthood. But he soon 
abandoned this intention, and, at the age of nineteen, 
accepted an offer of a commission in the Navarre regiment. 
A military life, however, was but little to his taste, and, 
in 1791, he sailed for America, with the object of obtain- 
ing immortality by the discovery of the North-west 

The Passage was neither found nor, for the matter of 
that, even attempted ; but his brief sojourn in the New 
World was by no means barren of result, as it was there 
that he found his true vocation and the materials for Atala 
and Rene. 

On his return to France he discovered that his mother 
and sister had considerately arranged a marriage for him 
with a certain Mademoiselle de Lavigne, a young lady of 
some fortune, a plan to which Chateaubriand consented 
readily enough, although he had only seen his intended 
bride on two or three occasions, and was quite indifferent 
to her. " I felt no qualification for the position of a hus- 
band," he says in a characteristic passage in his Memoires 
d' Outre Tombe. " Lucile [his sister] was fond of Made- 
moiselle de Lavigne, and saw in this marriage a means of 
securing my independence. * So be it,* said I. In my case 
the public man is immovable ; the private individual is at 



the mercy of any one who wishes to influence him, and, 
to avoid an hour's bickering, I would enslave myself for a 
century." ' 

The marriage, although quite devoid of affection on the 
husband's side, was not an unhappy one. For many years, 
however, the author and his wife were content to live 
apart ; but when, in 1 804, Madame de Chateaubriand 
suffered a reverse of fortune, her husband behaved in a 
very honourable manner, and sent for her to share his 
home. Chateaubriand appears to have always respected 
the many good qualities of his wife, and graciously per- 
mitted her to worship him, which was all she asked. 
" Madame de Chateaubriand," he says, " admires me 
without having read two lines of my works ; she would 
fear to meet in them with ideas differing from her own, 
or to discover that the rest of the world is not enthusiastic 
enough in its estimation of me." 

After the execution of Louis XVI. in January, 1793, 
Chateaubriand, who, like all the Breton aristocracy, was a 
fervent Royalist, joined the ranks of the emigres, and took 
part in the Duke of Brunswick's invasion of France. 
After the failure of that expedition, in which he was 
wounded at the siege of Thionville, he 'made his escape 
to England. Here his small stock of money was soon 
exhausted, and he and a fellow exile named Hingant, 
who shared his garret, found themselves on the verge of 

" We reduced our rations," he says, " as is done in a 
ship when the voyage is expected to be a very long one. 
At our breakfast we saved half our bread, and dispensed 
altogether with butter. . . . When we came to our last 
shilling I arranged with my friend to keep it, in order to 

1 Chateaubriand's Memoires <T Outre Tombe, ii. 350. 
I 7 z 


make a show of breakfasting. We agreed that we would 
buy a twopenny loaf ; that we should have the breakfast- 
things laid as usual, the hot water brought up, and the 
tea-caddy set on the table ; that we would not put in any 
tea or eat any bread, but merely drink some water 
flavoured with a few crumbs of sugar which remained at 
the bottom of the basin. 

" In this way five days passed. I was devoured by 
hunger felt on fire and sleep had forsaken me. I used 
to suck pieces of linen dipped in water, and to chew grass 
and paper. On passing by a baker's shop the torment 
was horrible. On a bitter winter's evening I have 
remained for as long as two hours standing before a 
grocer's shop or Italian warehouse, devouring with my 
eyes everything I saw. I would have eaten not only the 
eatables, but the boxes, bags or baskets which contained 
them." i 

At length their friends sent them a little money, and 
Chateaubriand removed to Beccles, in Suffolk, where he 
maintained himself by giving French lessons to the sons 
and daughters of the neighbouring gentry. One of his 
pupils, a Miss Charlotte Ives, daughter of the rector of 
Bungay, unaware that there was already a Madame de 
Chateaubriand, quite lost her heart to the handsome 
Breton. Chateaubriand, to whom admiration was as the 
breath of life, cruelly forbore to undeceive her ; and it 
was not until the lady's mother offered the young emigre^ 
whose poverty she thought made him too timid to come 
forward, her daughter's hand and a home under their 
own roof, that he confessed that he was not free to love. 

Twenty-seven years afterwards, when Chateaubriand 
returned to England as French ambassador, Charlotte Ives, 
1 Me moires d * Outre Tombe, iii. 168. 


who had in the interval become the wife of Admiral 
Sutton, and the mother of two fine boys, but in whose 
heart time had not effaced the memory of her first love > 
a fact which Chateaubriand, with rather questionable taste, 
expatiates upon in his Memoires called upon him to solicit 
his influence to obtain for her eldest son an appointment 
upon the staff of the Viceroy of India. His application was 
successful, and he was thus able to make the poor lady 
some reparation for the injury he had done her. 

In 1797 Chateaubriand published his first work, an 
Essai sur les Revolutions, which was favourably received, 
and in 1800, his name having been struck off the list of 
emigres, he returned to France. Atala, a love-story of 
savage life, the scene of which is laid in the American 
forests and prairies, appeared in the following year, and 
established the reputation of its author * a reputation 
which was enormously enhanced by the publication, three 
years later, of his famous treatise Le Gdnie du Christianisme, 
which may almost be said to have paved the way for the 
re-establishment of the Roman Catholic religion in France. 

This masterpiece of literary art, which originally in- 
cluded both Atala and Rene, though these stories were 
subsequently detached, appearing as it did at a time of 
widespread reaction against the blasphemous buffooneries 
of the Revolution, met with extraordinary success. It 
must be admitted, however, that its merit lies rather in 
the brilliancy of its descriptive passages than in the cogency 
of its reasoning, for Chateaubriand was never either a 
particularly sound thinker or a particularly able contro- 

Bonaparte, whose conciliatory policy towards the Papacy 

1 Atala has been translated into six European languages English^ 
German, Greek, Russian, Spanish, and Swedish. 


the opportune publication of Chateaubriand's book had 
done much to facilitate, rewarded the author by appointing 
him attache at Rome, where he wrote his Lettres sur /'//#//>, 
and quarrelled so much with the ambassador, Cardinal 
Fesch, that in a few months he was recalled, and sent as 
envoy to the little republic of the Valais. 

While on this mission all Europe was horrified at the 
murder of the poor young Due d'Enghien. Chateaubriand, 
feeling that he could no longer with honour hold any 
office under a Government which could perpetrate such 
atrocities, immediately resigned his post, and eventually 
became as formidable an opponent of Napoleon in the 
sphere of ideas as Wellington and Metternich were in that 
of action. 

Several of Chateaubriand's contemporaries have asserted 
that, had Napoleon shown more disposition to acknowledge 
the great writer's merits, he might have won him over 
at any time, for Chateaubriand would not have been 
indifferent to praise from such a quarter ; and Madame 
de Remusat tells us that the Emperor said on more than 
one occasion, " The difficulty would not be to buy M. de 
Chateaubriand, but to give him his price." J If Napoleon 
really did say this, and, as Madame de Remusat is generally 
a veracious chronicler, there is no reason to think other- 
wise, it shows a complete failure to understand the charac- 
ter of the author of Atala very unusual in so shrewd a 
judge of human nature as Napoleon; for in spite of his 
egotism, his vanity, and his affectation, in spite of the 
inconsistency of his political conduct under Louis XVIII. 
and Charles X. inconsistency due in great part to his 
unsuccessful attempts to reconcile Legitimacy and Liberty 
Chateaubriand was a high-minded and honourable man, 
1 Memoires de Madame de Remusat ', ii. 391. 


and no consideration whatever would have induced him to 
support a sovereign who, to borrow his own words, had 
not scrupled to use the bleeding corpse of a Frenchman as 
a footstool to ascend the throne of France. 

In 1 806 Chateaubriand set out on a tour in the East, 
visiting Greece, Palestine, and Egypt in quest of fresh 
material for his work. The result of this journey was his 
delightful Itineraire de Paris a Jerusalem^ and Les Martyrs, 
a prose epic, of which the action passes in the days of 
Diocletian. The professed object of this latter work was 
to demonstrate the superiority of Christian over Pagan 
forms of worship : and although in this respect it was 
only partially successful, chiefly because the author falls 
into the error common to most writers who deal with the 
early Christian era that of making the Pagans the most 
interesting characters the genuine pathos which surrounds 
the character of the ill-fated druidess Vellda, and the 
eloquence with which the glories of the ancient world are 
delineated, must ever suffice to give it a place among the 
masterpieces of French literature. 

Two years before, his most characteristic production, 
Rene, had appeared, which, like Madame de Kriidener's 
Valerie and Madame de StaeTs Corinne, contains a fairly 
accurate portrait of its author. " It paints with wonderful 
mastery," says an English critic, " the misery of a morbid, 
dissatisfied soul, the type of a character blighted by over- 
sensitiveness on the one hand, and an egotism, thinly 
veiled by poetical sentiment, on the other. Renews morbid 
despondency is but the too faithful portrait of the desola- 
tion begotten in his own mind by the unnatural alliance 
between opulence of imagination and poverty of heart. " : 

In February 1811, on the death of Joseph de Chenier, 

1 "Encyclopaedia Britannica," v. 437. 


Chateaubriand's friends proposed to nominate him for the 
vacant seat in the Institute. Chateaubriand was at first 
unwilling to join what he termed a "den of philosophers" ; 
but eventually he consented to become a candidate, and 
was duly elected. When the time for the admission of the 
new member arrived, it was found that in his address, 
copies of which were being circulated in Paris, he had 
vehemently denounced the execution of Louis XVI., and 
called for vengeance upon the regicides, several of whom, 
like Cambaceres and Merlin de Douay, occupied positions 
of the highest importance in the service of the State ; and 
had extolled liberty, which, he declared, found refuge among 
men of letters when banished from the body politic. 

The Institute, fearful of the consequences which might 
follow so much boldness on the part of its latest recruit, 
appointed a commission to examine the discourse and 
report upon it. The commission decided that it must be 
revised. The Emperor, however, hearing of what had 
passed, demanded that the address should be submitted 
to him. 

Daru, himself an author and critic, was deputed to take 
the manuscript to the Emperor, who received him alone. 
Napoleon, it appears, had already a grievance against 
Chateaubriand, who had recently published an article in the 
Mercure, in which he had compared the Emperor to Nero 
and himself to Tacitus. On receiving this fresh proof of 
the author's hostility, Napoleon flew into a terrible passion. 
" Had this discourse been delivered," he exclaimed, " I 
would have closed the gates of the Institute, and thrown 
M. de Chateaubriand into a dungeon for life." 

His furious apostrophes of the absent Chateaubriand 
were overheard in the antechamber, and believed to be 
addressed to Daru. The consequence was that when poor 

177 M 


Daru reappeared, he found himself, to his astonishment, 
shunned by the very courtiers who had, on his entry, 
greeted him most warmly. As for the real object of the 
Imperial wrath, he was ordered to leave Paris at once, nor 
did he return to the capital until after the abdication of 

In March 1814, at the moment when the fate of the 
Empire was trembling in the balance, Chateaubriand pub- 
lished his pamphlet De Bonaparte etdes Bourbons , a scathing 
indictment of Napoleonic ambition, which Louis XVIII. 
once declared to have been worth a hundred thousand men 
to the Legitimist cause. 

After the Restoration Chateaubriand was made a peer, 
under the title of Vicomte de Chateaubriand, and a 
Minister of State. But he was far too original a character 
to commend himself to the old-fashioned king ; indeed, 
the two men appear to have been naturally antagonistic an 
antagonism which Chateaubriand described as the dislike 
of the classical for the romantic. Nevertheless, he accom- 
panied the Court to Ghent during the Hundred Days, 
and did his best to counteract the influence of the favourite 
Blacas and the other reactionaries by whom Louis was 

In his Memoir es he describes how, one Sunday afternoon 
in June, during his stay at Ghent, he was strolling along 
the high road which led to Brussels, reading Caesar's 
Commentaries^ when his attention was aroused by a noise 
like the rumbling of distant thunder. He looked up, 
and, observing that the sky was somewhat overcast, con- 
cluded that a storm was approaching. Presently the 
sound was repeated, and he noticed that the detonations 
were neither so loud nor so regular as those of thunder, 
and began to wonder what they could be. He learned 



afterwards that the noise which had puzzled him was the 
distant echo of the cannon at Waterloo. 

When Napoleon was once more caged, this time for 
good and all, Chateaubriand returned to Paris, and for a 
time associated himself with the violence of the Royalist 
reaction. But he soon became thoroughly disgusted with 
the set of intriguers who had assumed the direction of 
affairs, and his brochure, Monarchie selon la Charte a 
sweeping exposure of the unconstitutional acts of the 
Government exasperated the king so much that, in 1 8 16, 
his name was struck off the list of Ministers of State, and 
the pension attached to his post taken from him. 

At the time of his meeting with Madame Recamier, 
Chateaubriand was forty-eight, and still as handsome as 
ever. " He was of middle height," says Lescure, " a 
little high-shouldered : all his vitality and masculine 
energy seemed to be centred in the head, which was superb 
and full of fascination. He had a broad forehead, with 
black, curling hair, and eyes that had a profound ex- 
pression, like the sea whose colour they matched ; and 
when he wished to please, he had a smile at once cap- 
tivating and irresistible, such as Count Mole said he had 
seen only in Bonaparte and Chateaubriand." 

For years he had been the spoiled darling of the salons. 
Men, while acknowledging his brilliant talents, found his 
vanity and egotism difficult to bear ; but the ladies of the. 
Faubourg St. Germain were quite willing to take him at 
his own valuation, which was an exalted one, and it was 
to them that Chateaubriand was wont to turn for conso- 
lation in his constantly recurring fits of depression, for he 
always aspired to more than he gained, and was dissatisfied 
even with his own aspirations. 

Chateaubriand seems to have at once conceived a 



profound admiration and devotion for Madame Recamier, 
and her gentle influence dominated the remainder of his 
life. She, on her part, found herself irresistibly drawn 
towards this brilliant man, with his romantic past, his 
beautiful, intellectual face, and his fine courtly manners, 
whose respectful admiration was so refreshing a contrast 
to the rhapsodies of poor Benjamin Constant, and the 
intense weariness of life which he affected only proved 
an additional attraction in her eyes. Henceforth it is 
Chateaubriand who occupies the foremost place in her 
affections, and those faithful friends Mathieu de Mont- 
morency and Simon Ballanche are relegated to secondary 
positions, for the author of Atala^ like the Turk, suffered 
no brother near the throne. 

" Chateaubriand's friendship with Madame Recamier," 
says a contemporary writer, " was, as he confesses it, a relief 
to his spirits. She seems to have understood this 
melancholy man more than the world did. She cheered 
him, not, perhaps, entering so much into his feelings, as 
flattering imperceptibly his vanity, which was naturally 
soothed by a beautiful woman, who had been such a star 
in the world of society. Often, indeed, the recluse, the 
bitter philosopher, verging on misanthropy, is drawn back 
to the world, at least to humanity, by the delicate allure- 
ments of a mere flirt. Madame Recamier was little more. 
She was not a woman of profound mind. Her com- 
panionship with thinkers like Ballanche or Chateaubriand 
was not spiritual, or metaphysical, or philosophical, or 
speculative ; such men did not want such companionship. 
They had run into superhumanity (if the term be per- 
mitted), and they wanted more humanity. They found it 
in its pleasantest, least offensive, most attractive form in 
this amiable, agreeable, pretty woman, who had lived to 

1 80 


enjoy life, and enjoyed it, and even prized it still. Madame 
Recamier won back these morbid thinkers by the strength 
of her very reality. She was their medium between a 
world " d* outre tombe" and a living world, to which they 
felt, or professed such hostility. Far from angelic, she 
was a kind of angel to them, who was able to throw a 
halo of common beauty over the world they detested. 
The fact that she was a woman, still beautiful, still gay, 
still full of life, gave her this power. In this respect a 
woman however commonplace is more than a poet, and 
Madame Recamier, though a flirt, was not common- 
place." i 

It can readily be understood that neither Mathieu de 
Montmorency nor Ballanche who had, on the death of 
his father, sold his printing business, and settled in Paris, 
that he might be near his idol were at all disposed to 
allow the new favourite to usurp the place which they 
had come to look upon as rightfully their own ; and one 
cannot read without a smile the serious way in which both 
the devot and the philosopher set to work to wean their 
sovereign lady from, what they considered, her deplorable 
weakness for the intruder. 

Montmorency redoubled his pious efforts at conversion. 
" I was greatly pained and shocked to-day/* he writes, "at 
such a sudden change in your manner towards myself and 
others. Ah ! madame, what rapid progress has this evil 
which your most faithful friends have dreaded for your sake 
made in the course of a few weeks ! Ah ! turn there 
is always time to Him who gives strength, when the 
desire to obtain it is sincere, to cure all and repair all. 
God and a valiant heart are all-sufficient. I pray from the 
depths of my heart, and with all the strength which the 

L 1 Wharton's " Queens of Society," ii. 35. 


ardour of my wishes gives me, that you may be sustained 
and enlightened, and that by His powerful aid you may 
be prevented from weaving with your own hands a chain 
of misery, from which those who love you will suffer as 
well as yourself." 

The philosophic Ballanche devised a more singular cure 
for Madame Recamier's infatuation : he recommended her 
to divert her thoughts by translating Petrarch. " You 
are a complete poem ; you are the Muse herself," he 
writes. " You are an angel that has lost its way in 
coming to a world of turmoil and falsehood. . . . The 
work that I want you to do for Petrarch has been done for 
Dante ; but no one has dared to wrestle with the difficulties 
of the former. This work would do you infinite honour. 
I go further : I want you to write the introduction. I 
shall reserve for myself only the editing, which, modest as 
it is, will bring me great credit, without even mentioning 
the glory that will be reflected upon me from my associa- 
tion with you. No, you do not know yourself ; no one 
knows the extent of his powers until he has tested them. 
. . . Your domain lies in the realm of delicate senti- 
ment ; but, believe me, you have under your command 
the genius of music, flowers, imagination, and elegance. 
Privileged creature, take courage : lift your charming head, 
and do not fear to try your hand on the golden lyre of the 
poets ! " 

Jealousy, a passion from which neither devotees nor 
philosophers are wholly exempt, no doubt had something 
to do with the opposition shown by Montmorency and 
Ballanche to Madame Recamier's growing intimacy with 
Chateaubriand ; but it would appear to have been princi- 
pally due to disinterested motives. According to Madame 
Lenormant, these two faithful friends dreaded that Madame 



Recamier's peaceful life would be disturbed by contact with 
a person of so capricious and fitful a nature, to whom the 
greatest success failed to bring contentment, and who was 
subject to continual fits of morbid depression. 

But, whatever their motives may have been, their efforts 
were futile. Neither devotion nor Petrarch of which 
Madame Rcamier did actually translate a small portion 
sufficed to bring about the desired cure. Day by day saw 
her more irresistibly fettered by the influence of the 
conqueror ; and at length Montmorency and Ballanche 
reluctantly abandoned the struggle and resigned themselves 
to the inevitable. 


Jacques Recamier sustains fresh losses Madame Recamier 
determines to retire to the Abbaye-au-Bois Chateaubriand's 
description of her " cell " there The Abbaye-au-Bois becomes 
the fashion Chateaubriand the chief personage in Madame 
Recamier's circle His character and habits Madame Re- 
camier's devotion to him Assassination of the Due de Berri 
and fall of Decazes Chateaubriand goes as Minister to Berlin 
His letters to Madame Recamier He returns to Paris, and 
is sent as Ambassador to London The Carbonari Their 
organisation and methods of communication Risings in 
different parts of France Coudert and Sirejean Madame 
Recamier obtains the pardon of Coudert Her efforts on 
behalf of Sirejean His fate 

IN 1819 Jacques Recamier suffered fresh losses, and this 
time his wife's own little fortune, which she had generously 
but imprudently hazarded in his speculations, was involved 
to the extent of one hundred thousand francs. A few 
months previously, Madame Recamier had bought a house 
in the Rue d'Anjou, where she had established herself with 
her husband, her father, her little niece, and old Simonard, 
who was always looked upon as one of the family. She 
now, however, determined to break up her establishment, 
separate from her husband, and retire to the Abbaye- 
au-Bois in the Rue de Sevres. Her husband, M. 
Bernard, and his inseparable companion Simonard could 
share a lodging in the neighbourhood, could dine with 



her every day, and spend the evening in her company. 
By this means the expenses of the liberal hospitality to 
which they had always been accustomed would be avoided, 
and she would be able to live alone without the appearance 
of disagreement with her husband, as no men were per- 
mitted to reside even in the exterior of the convent. 

Her resolve met with the decided approbation of her 
friends, for the world, usually so censorious, especially 
where a pretty woman is concerned, was invariably just 
to Madame Recamier ; and she had the satisfaction of 
knowing that her motives in thus withdrawing from 
society were understood and appreciated. 

The Abbaye-au-Bois, one of the few convents which 
had the good fortune to escape the Revolution, lies, with 
its small garden, a little way back from the street, in the 
Rue de Sevres, in the middle of the fashionable Faubourg 
St. Germain. A lofty iron gate, surmounted by a cross 
of the same metal, gives admission to a quadrangle, on 
one side of which is the chapel. Several staircases ascend 
from this yard, leading to apartments rented to ladies 
who wished to retire into an interesting semi-obscurity. 
Many famous leaders of society had sought, at one time 
or another, the shelter of the Abbaye, Madame de 
Vintimille, the mistress of Louis XV., among the number. 

The only suite of rooms vacant at that time in the 
Abbaye was situated on the third floor, under the lofty 
old-fashioned roof of the building. It was a small apart- 
ment, crooked in shape, paved with tiles, and altogether 
uninviting. The stairs leading to it were very steep and 
difficult of ascent, a somewhat serious drawback for visitors 
advanced in years. 1 Madame Rcamier, however, having 

1 Maria Edgeworth, in a letter to her sister, says that there were 
seventy-eight steps, and " every one came in with the asthma." 


once made up her mind, was not one to draw back, in 
spite of the comfortless appearance of her surroundings. 
She settled the three old men whose good angel she was 
in a lodging close at hand, and installed herself in the 
room which every one else had found uninhabitable* 
Chateaubriand has described in his most poetical language 
the " cellule " of his beloved recluse : 

" The chamber," he says, " was furnished with a book- 
case, a harp, a piano, a portrait of Madame de Stael, and 
a view of Coppet by moonlight. On the window-sills 
were pots of flowers. When, quite out of breath with 
having climbed three flights of stairs, I entered the cell 
just as twilight was falling, I was enchanted. The 
windows overlooked the garden of the Abbaye, under the 
verdant shade of which the nuns paced up and down, and 
the pupils played. The top of an acacia was on a level 
with the eye, sharp spires pierced the sky, and in the 
distance rose the hills of Sevres. The rays of the setting 
sun shed a golden light over the landscape, and streamed 
in through the open windows. Here I found silence and 
solitude, far above the noise and turmoil of a great city." 

In 1819 the Abbaye-au-Bois was so little known, at 
least to the fashionable world, that Madame Moreau, 
when she paid her first visit to Madame Recamier, took 
the precaution of ordering her dinner an hour later than 
the usual time, in order to make the journey to a place 
so remote. In a few days, however, all the world had 
found out the way, and ere long it became the fashion 
to be admitted to what Chateaubriand called the " cell " 
at the Abbaye. 

But if the gay world came to her and was made welcome, 
Madame Recamier resolutely refused to return its visits. 
She paid an occasional visit to the theatre to see Talma in 

1 86 


seme new role, and was present at Madame Rachel's 
dttut^ but, as a general rule, she never went out except in 
the morning. Dinner found all her family assembled 
round her just as in former days, and to the domestic 
circle was frequently added one or other of her most 
intimate friends. Mathieu de Montmorency came every 
night, always late, because his duties as Chevalier 
cTHonneur to the Duchess d'Angoulme required his 
attendance until she retired to rest. At first there was 
some little difficulty about his being admitted, as the rule 
of the convent was that the outer gate should be closed 
at eleven o'clock ; but Madame Recamier eventually per- 
suaded the Superieure to allow it to remain open until 
midnight, and until Montmorency 's death these evening 
visits were never interrupted. 

At the end of six months Madame Recamier moved to 
a more commodious suite of rooms on the first floor of 
the Abbaye, where she was far more comfortable, and able 
to extend her modest hospitality to a much larger circle 
of friends. Hither came her old friends Simonard, Adrien 
and Mathieu de Montmorency, Ballanche, and Madame 
Moreau; distinguished foreigners like Elizabeth, Duchess 
of Devonshire, her brother, the Earl of Bristol, Sir 
Humphry and Lady Davy, Mary Berry, Maria Edge- 
worth, and Alexander von Humboldt ; and literary men 
and politicians of every school and shade of opinion 
Chateaubriand, Benjamin Constant, Lamartine, Dubois 
(of the Globe)) Baron Pasquier, and Auguste P6rier ; and, 
later, Villemain, Montalembert, Tocqueville, Guizot, 
Thierry, Sainte-Beuve, and Prosper Merime. Here 
Lamartine' s Meditations were read and admired before 
they were given to the public. Here Delphine Gay, as a 
young girl, recited a poem of her own, which was after- 



wards crowned by the Academy ; and Jean- Jacques 
Ampere, the son of the famous geometrician, was intro- 
duced to Parisian society. Here also Mary Berry, " no 
longer young, but still beautiful and spirituelle " as 
one of the habitues describes her made a ludicrous and 
rather awkward mistake about the Queen of Sweden, to 
whom, in ignorance of her identity, she related an amusing 
anecdote, the heroine of which was the queen herself. 
But by far the most important person in Madame 
Recamier's circle of friends at the Abbaye was Chateau- 
briand ; indeed, from the very beginning of his daily 
visits he became the first object of her life. Strange as it 
may seem in a man of so wayward and capricious a tem- 
perament, Chateaubriand was as regular and methodical 
in his daily habits as any bank clerk. Every morning he 
wrote a note to Madame Recamier. Every afternoon, 
precisely at three o'clock, he paid her a visit ; in fact, so 
remarkable was his punctuality that he used to laugh and 
say that people regulated their watches by him as he 
passed. Although far from a shy man, he was singularly 
reserved and exclusive. He detested nothing so much as 
to find himself in a room full of strangers, and, accordingly, 
Madame Recamier admitted no one at his " hour " with- 
out his consent. All the mixed or casual company she 
saw came in the evening when he was not there. The 
change in her life was indeed an extraordinary one. Until 
her meeting with Chateaubriand she had been the object 
around which others revolved. It was now Chateaubriand 
who was the centre of her little world ; but there can be 
no doubt that she was far happier in the self-abnegation 
now required of her than in the cold and glittering 
supremacy she had formerly enjoyed. All her habits 
were modified to suit his tastes ; all her interests were 



centred in him ; while his restless, melancholy nature 
and the vicissitudes of his political career kept her in a 
continual state of anxiety and perplexity. " It was the 
one aim of her life," says Madame Lenormant," to appease 
the irritability, soothe the susceptibilities, and remove the 
annoyances of this noble, generous, but selfish nature, 
spoiled by excessive adulation." 

This beneficial mission was only accomplished at the 
cost of Madame Recamier's peace of mind ; and, in this 
respect, the fears of Mathieu de Montmorency and 
Ballanche were but too well justified. Still, she had her 
reward. As time went on, Chateaubriand became less 
morbid, less supercilious, less egotistical, and altogether 
more considerate for the feelings of those around him. 
His admiration and respect for the woman who, by virtue 
of the pure and unselfish affection she cherished for him, 
was able to exercise so great an influence on his life was 
boundless. " You have transformed my nature," he says 
to her in one of his letters ; and he spoke the truth. 

Soon after the beginning of Chateaubriand's intimacy 
with Madame Recamier he asked permission to bring his 
wife to call upon her. Madame de Chateaubriand was a 
grande dame of the old school, with a manner which seemed 
to imply that she was conferring a favour upon those 
whom she condescended to address. She was noted for 
her charity, and she and her husband had established a 
sort of hospice, where twelve old men and the same number 
of old women had found a shelter in their declining years. 
Thomas Moore, who met her about this time, and who, 
as a poet, may be presumed to have been a judge of 
feminine beauty, says that she was still handsome, but 
chronic ill-health had reduced her almost to a skeleton 
and spoiled her temper, and she was, in consequence, far 



from an easy person to live with. Fortunately for her 
husband, however, she was quite devoid of jealousy, and 
regarded his friendships with Madame de Duras, Madame 
Recamier, and other ladies with perfect complacency. She 
remained on cordial, though never very intimate terms 
with Madame Recamier during the rest of her life. 

The assassination of the Due de Berry, second son of 
the Comte d'Artois, in 1820, was followed by the fall of 
the Decazes Ministry, and Chateaubriand's friends, the 
ultra-Royalists, came into power. Chateaubriand had 
contributed too largely to the success of his party to be 
passed over by them ; but the king's dislike to him was 
so intense that it was impossible to give him a seat in the 
new Cabinet. They, therefore, fell back upon the usual 
expedient when dealing with a powerful and independent 
politician whom it was necessary to propitiate, and offered 
him the post of Minister at Berlin. Chateaubriand, how- 
ever, declined to accept it unless his name was, at the 
same time, reinstated on the list of Ministers of State, 
from which it had been removed in 1816. After some 
demur on the part of the king, his request was granted, 
and on New Year's Day, 1821, he left for the Prussian 
capital. While there he kept up a regular correspondence 
with his friend at the Abbaye-au-Bois. 


"January 20, 1821. 

"If it be true that no one is a prophet in his own 
country, it is equally true that except in his own country 
no one is properly appreciated. Doubtless they (the 
Berliners) know who I am ; but the nature of the people 
is cold ; what we call enthusiasm is unknown. They have 
read my works ; admire them more or less ; look at me 



for a moment with quiet curiosity, and have no desire to 
talk with me, or to know me better. M. d'Alop^us 1 will 
tell you the same thing. It is the simple truth ; and I 
again assure you that this suits me in every way. There 
is no society here beyond the great Carnival reunions, 
which end at the beginning of Lent, after which every 
one lives in the most complete retirement. No receptions 
are given to the Diplomatic Corps, and I might be Racine 
or Bossuet, and nobody would care. If I have been at all 
warmly received, it has been by the royal family, who are 
charming, and have overwhelmed me with kindness and 
attention. At a grand fte at the English Minister's on 
Tuesday, I had the honour of being chosen as a partner 
by the Grand-Duchess Nicholas, the King's favourite 
daughter, and her Royal Highness the Duchess of 
Cumberland. 2 Yesterday I had a long conversation with 
the Grand-Duke Nicholas. Now, here you have the whole 
story of the honours which are being conferred upon me, 
and of my way of life. Every day I take a solitary walk 
in the park a large wood at the gate of Berlin ; and when 
there are no dinner-parties or reunions, I go to bed at nine 
o'clock. I have no other resource, except conversation 
with Hyacinth. 3 We discuss current literature. What 

1 The Russian Minister to the Court of Berlin, whom Madame 
Recamier had met at Aix the previous summer. 

2 "The Duchess of Cumberland took, nearly every day, the same 
walk as myself. Sometimes she was returning from a charitable visit to 
the cottage of a poor widow of Spandau ; sometimes she would stop 
and say to me, in a gracious manner, that she had hoped to meet me. 
I visited her frequently. She often remarked to me that she would like 
to confide to my care the little George, the prince whom, it was said, 
his cousin Victoria wished to place by her side on the throne of 
England." Memoires d' Outre Tombe^ vii. 321. 

8 Hyacinth Pilorge, his private secretary. 



else can I tell you ? I am engaged upon my third diplo- 
matic despatch. Try to find out, through Mathieu, 1 if it 
gives satisfaction. My recall is certain in April ; but you 
must press it. 

"The four little lines were a complete success. They 
could not possibly be detected, and the fire brought them 
out as if by magic. You will see that all my predictions 
will come to pass. I shall return in the spring, and you 
will find me as devoted as ever." 

"March 20, 1821. 

" You say that I do not tell you of my successes. Here 
is one. A Moravian preacher gave a most pompous 
eulogy of me last Sunday in the pulpit. What do you 
think ? He contrasted me with Voltaire, who also lived 
in this country : he to corrupt it, I to repair the evil he 
had done. 

" I have told you a hundred times that I read you 
easily, in spite of your fine writing. Give yourself, there- 
fore, no uneasiness on that score. You cannot imagine my 
delight at hearing that you are again in your little cell. 
Before two months are over I shall see you. This thought 
gives me new life and courage." 

Chateaubriand returned to France in the following 
May. In the autumn a change of Ministers brought the 
Royalists fully into power. Villele took the Treasury ; 
Corbiere became Minister of the Interior ; Peyronnet 
Minister of Justice ; and Mathieu de Montmorency 
Minister for Foreign Affairs. Chateaubriand had looked 
for the last post, and was naturally much chagrined at 
being again passed over. He was, however, somewhat 

1 Mathieu de Montmorency, then Minister for Foreign Affairs. 



mollified at being offered the embassy in London ; and in 
April 1822 returned to the city through whose streets, 
thirty years before, he had trudged a penniless and starving 

About 1820 the Carbonarism which had flourished for 
some years in Italy began to take root in France, and 
quickly received from that systematising genius so charac- 
teristic of the French an organic character which it had 
hitherto lacked. The Carbonari were divided into sections 
called ventes, or circles, with a supreme vente, or directing 
committee, presided over by the veteran Lafayette. The 
deputies of twenty particular rentes composed a central 
vente y the latter communicating through a deputy with the 
high vente, which, in its turn, received orders from the 
directing committee. These orders were communicated 
with astonishing rapidity and secrecy. No Carbonaro knew 
any but the members of his own vente, and written com- 
munications were strictly prohibited. The conspirators 
revealed themselves to one another by signs, passwords, 
and sometimes by cards, divided in such a way as to fit to 
other cards. Carbonarism made great progress, especially 
among the middle classes university students, journalists, 
and subalterns in the army ; indeed, the army appears to 
have been a perfect hotbed of conspiracy. 

Fired by the example of their Spanish and Italian 
brethren, efforts were made by the French Carbonari, in 
1821, to raise revolts at Belfort, La Rochelle, Saumur, 
Thouars, and other towns. They were suppressed without 
much difficulty, but not without revealing how widespread 
was the movement, and the Government, accordingly, pro- 
ceeded to mete out severe punishment to those of the 
conspirators who had fallen into their hands, with the 
object of striking dismay into the hearts of the rest. 

193 K 


Eleven young officers, stationed at Saumur, were tried by 
court-martial at Tours, and three of them named Delon, 
Coudert, and Sirejean, were condemned to death. Delon, 
who appears to have been the instigator of the plot, saved 
himself by flight, and it transpired that the other two had 
been induced to join him by false representations, and in 
complete ignorance of his real motives. Leave to appeal 
was, accordingly, granted them, and, in the interval between 
the two trials, their friends made great efforts on their 
behalf. Coudert's brother, although quite unknown to 
Madame Recamier, presented himself one day at the 
Abbaye-au-Bois, and besought her to use her influence 
on behalf of the unfortunate young officer. 

Madame Recamier, always ready to assist those in 
distress, willingly agreed, and exerted herself to such good 
purpose that the revisional tribunal, doubtless acting upon 
a hint from the Government, commuted the sentence of 
death passed by the court-martial to one of five years' 

The success which had attended Madame Rcamier's 
efforts on behalf of Coudert encouraged the friends of 
Sirejean to invoke her assistance in their turn. Sirejean, 
it may be remarked, was by far the most to be pitied of 
the two prisoners. He was barely twenty-one years of 
age, and had, it seems, joined the Carbonari under the 
impression that he was being initiated into a harmless 
society akin to that of the Freemasons. He was a mem- 
ber of a very respectable family at Chalons, where Madame 
Recamier had spent the first few months of her exile, and 
his aunt, Madame Chenet, called upon her with a letter of 
introduction from the wife of the prefect of Marne. The 
imprisoned youth himself wrote to Madame Recamier a 
touching letter : 



" MADAME, I am at a loss to find words to express 
my sense of gratitude to you for the interest which you 
have promised to exert on behalf of an unfortunate man, 
who is only a stranger to you, and who has been guilty of 
a crime which the confidence he reposed in the miserable 
Delon caused him to look upon as a duty. My age, my 
inexperience of the world, prevented me from perceiving 
the trap that was laid for me ; and I have fallen into a 
pit from which I shall never be able to extricate myself. 
What consoles and assists me to bear my remorse is the 
knowledge that there are hearts like yours, madame, who 
know that my fault was an unconscious one, and who 
believe that I am repentant. 


" P.S. The court will meet next Monday. 
"THE PRISON, TOURS, April 8." 

Madame Recamier laboured indefatigably to save this 
poor youth, who was so much more sinned against than 
sinning, and to comfort his parents, who were so over- 
whelmed by the terrible fate that threatened their son as 
to be incapable themselves of taking the necessary steps 
on his behalf. But the Government, in commuting 
Coudert's sentence, seems to have reached the limit of its 
clemency, and, doubtless, considered that to spare both 
the youthful conspirators might savour of weakness. All 
Madame Recamier 's efforts were in vain, and, on April 18, 
the revisional tribunal confirmed the death sentence. 

The condemned man, however, wrote again to his 
protectress a letter, the handwriting of which plainly re- 
vealed the terrible agitation under which he was labouring. 
He told her that his friends had decided to press for i* 


new trial, as the fugitive Delon had been captured, and 
was to be tried at Poitiers, and it was confidently antici- 
pated that his evidence would completely exonerate the 
victim of his intrigues. He begged Madame Rcamier 
to exert her influence to obtain a respite. 

She did so, and was gratified to hear that the War 
Office had informed Sirej can's relatives that a respite had 
been granted. Her horror and indignation, therefore, may 
be imagined when she discovered that, in the face of this 
promise, the poor youth had been shot at daybreak on 
May 2. Sirej can met his fate with unflinching courage, 
as became a soldier. 



Chateaubriand in London His reception there His dislike 
of English society The Congress of Verona Chateaubriand's 
anxiety to represent France at the Congress Mathieu de 
Montmorency and Villele ignore his applications He 
appeals to Madame Recamier And is nominated as one of 
the French envoys His real object in wishing to attend 
the Congress His duplicity Mathieu de Montmorency 
and Chateaubriand at Verona Their letters to Madame 
Re"camier Indiscretions of Montmorency and intrigues of 
Chateaubriand Montmorency returns to Paris Villele and 
the King refuse to ratify his action at the Congress He 
resigns, and Chateaubriand becomes Minister for Foreign 
Affairs Magnanimous conduct of Montmorency His letter 
to Madame Recamier Chateaubriand declares himself in 
favour of armed intervention in Spain The French invade 
Spain Chateaubriand's letters to Madame Recamier Ben- 
jamin Constant prosecuted for his publications Madame 
Recamier intercedes for him Success of the French arms in 
Spain Triumph of Chateaubriand Effects of popular adula- 
tion upon him Strained relations between him and Mont- 
morency Madame Recamier determines to leave Paris And 
sets out for Rome 

WHILE Madame Recamier was engaged in this work of 
mercy her interest was being solicited by a very different 
person, and for a very different object. 

On first arriving in London, Chateaubriand had enjoyed 
the great political importance which attached to his post ; 
and had taken an almost boyish pleasure in parading his 



fine horses, carriages, and liveries before the eyes of the 
citizens who, when he formerly lived among them, had 
hardly deigned to notice his existence. But, ere many 
weeks had passed, the novelty of his new position had 
worn off, and he once more began to experience that 
feeling of weariness and disgust with his surroundings 
which was incessantly threatening to counteract the activity 
and ambition of his mind. " My principal fault," said he 
of himself, " has been ennui, distaste for everything, 
perpetual doubt." A strange temperament in a man 
whose life had been devoted to the restoration of religion 
and monarchy ! 

The fact of the matter was that England wounded his 
vanity. In Paris he could not enter a salon without at 
once becoming the cynosure of all eyes ; he could not 
open a newspaper without finding some reference to 
himself. In London it was very different. As a man of 
letters, he was known there only by name ; while, as a 
politician, he found himself, to his intense mortification, 
regarded rather as a successful party man than as a 
statesman. London, the English Court and drawing- 
rooms, bored and displeased him. " Every kind of reputa- 
tion," he says in his Memoires, "travels rapidly to the 
banks of the Thames, and leaves them again with the 
same speed. I should have worried myself to no purpose 
by endeavouring to acquire any knowledge of the English. 
What a life is a London season ! I should prefer the 
galleys a hundred times." 

His letters to Madame Recamier teem with complaints 
of the monotony of his life and the social duties which his 
official position entailed, and which he cordially detested. 

" Yesterday I made my first appearance in society. I 

1 Memoires d'Outre Tombe, vii. 395, 396. 


was extremely bored at a rout. I have been unwell ever 
since I have been here. I have frightful nights. The 
climate is detestable. ... A part of my duty consists in 
going into society ; and, when I have been working all 
day, I have to dress and go out at half-past eleven in the 
evening. Imagine what a plague this is to me ! . . . I 
am living contrary to all my tastes and habits. I leave 
you that I may not annoy you with my lamentations." 

He grumbles at the interest which she is taking in the 
fate of Sir ej can, and seems to regard it as a slight to 
himself. " Alas ! we have plenty of personal sorrows 
without adding to them the griefs of strangers." 

As time went on, the monotony, the idleness, the 
" isolation from the sound of his own name " as 
Lamartine aptly expresses it became almost unendurable. 
He burned with impatience to return to Paris, resume his 
place in the Chamber of Peers, and compel the king to 
acknowledge his claims to a seat in the Cabinet. An 
opportunity soon presented itself, which enabled him to 
seek in another direction the excitement and popularity 
which were to him as the breath of life. 

For some time past affairs in Spain had been going 
from bad to worse. The despicable Ferdinand VII. had 
been forced by his incensed subjects, in 1820, to accept 
the Constitution of Cadiz ; but he had no sooner done so 
than he had sought to evade its provisions, with the result 
that the unhappy country was now given over to all the 
horrors of civil war. Metternich, whose importance and 
influence had greatly increased since he had crushed the 
Italian revolutionaries, had now turned his attention to 
the affairs of the Peninsula, and urged the Powers to 
deliberate upon them in Congress. His suggestion was 
adopted ; and Verona was selected as the trysting-place. 



When Chateaubriand was first informed of the intention 
of the allied sovereigns to meet at Verona, he wrote to 
Villele strongly deprecating "the insolent interference of 
the Northern Cabinets in the affairs of the South." He 
would appear to have been, for the moment at any rate, 
in favour of the extension of constitutional rights in Spain 
and Naples, possibly owing to the influence of Canning, 
with whom he had formed a close friendship. No sooner, 
however, did he learn the names of the celebrated Ministers 
and diplomatists who had been accredited by the different 
Courts to assist at the Congress, than he became feverishly 
anxious to be nominated as one of the French representa- 
tives. He accordingly wrote to Villele and Mathieu de 
Montmorency to press his claims ; but the two Ministers 
ignored his appeals. Villele distrusted Chateaubriand, 
who, he considered, would be as likely as not to commit 
the Cabinet to a policy totally at variance with any 
decision they might arrive at ; while Montmorency fore- 
saw that, if the ambitious Breton attended the Congress, 
there would be an end to all freedom of action on his 
part ; that he would, in all probability, be compelled to 
yield the palm to him in diplomacy, as he had already 
done in love ; and that, on their return to Paris, Chateau- 
briand would succeed in ousting him from the Foreign 
Office, a post which, as he was well aware, he had long 
coveted. Under these circumstances, Chateaubriand 
decided to have recourse to the intervention of his friend 
at the Abbaye-au-Bois, knowing full well that the devoted 
Montmorency would find it hard to refuse her any favour 
she might ask of him. He was, however, careful not to 
allow her to suspect his real motive for wishing to go to 

" You will say that I am terribly anxious to take part 



in this Congress," he writes. " Not at all. But it is the 
road which leads me the more naturally into your cell, 
without a resignation and without a scene. This is all 
my secret. I shall await with the greatest impatience the 
first news from you. Write ! Write ! " 

At the same time, in order to leave nothing to chance, 
he despatched Marcellus, the First Secretary of the French 
Embassy, to Paris to represent to Montmorency that, 
unless his request was granted, his chief was fully resolved 
to resign his post, and return at once to France. 

Montmorency's determination to exclude Chateaubriand 
from the Congress was considerably shaken by this intelli- 
gence, as he foresaw that, in the event of the ambassador 
carrying out his threat, Villele would probably be con- 
strained to sacrifice the Foreign Minister himself, in order 
to buy off the hostility of the man who had already 
wrecked one Ministry, and might quite conceivably be 
strong enough to upset another. When, therefore, to 
the warnings of Marcellus were adde < the entreaties of 
Madame Rcamier, whom he feared would attribute a 
refusal to jealousy of his successful rival in her affections, 
he reluctantly yielded ; and, consoling himself with the 
reflection that a troublesome colleague at Verona might, 
perhaps, after all be preferable to a certain competitor in 
Paris, advised Villele to send Chateaubriand his nomina- 

It is more than doubtful whether Madame Rcamier 
would have lent her aid to the furtherance of Chateau- 
briand's wishes, had she been at all aware of the secret 
workings of her friend's ambitious mind. So far from 
desiring to counteract the tendency of the Eastern despots 
towards war, as he had led Villele at one time to suppose, 
Chateaubriand was strongly in favour of armed interven- 



tion in the affairs of Spain. Moreover, he fully intended 
that it should be he, and not Montmorency, who should 
decide upon and direct that war, notwithstanding the fact 
that, in one of his letters to the Foreign Minister, he had 
declared that the statement, which was being continually 
made in the newspapers, that he desired his place in the 
Cabinet was an " infamous falsehood," and that his sole 
reason for wishing to take part in the Congress was to 
increase his importance and influence at the Court of St. 

Chateaubriand arrived at Verona on October 16, 
whither Montmorency had already preceded him. The 
intercourse between the two diplomats was, according to 
the correspondence which they kept up with the object of 
their common attachment, courteous, although somewhat 
reserved. " Our first meeting was very friendly," writes 
Montmorency. " I trust that we shall continue on the 
same footing. That is what I fully intend, and he also, I 
imagine." " We are very civil to one another," says 
Chateaubriand. They both, it appears, avoided, by 
common consent, the subject of Madame Rcamier. It 
was still a sore point with the Foreign Minister. 

The majority of the French Cabinet was strongly in 
favour of war ; but Villele himself, the only member or 
the Government who had the least pretensions to be con- 
sidered a statesman, was anxious for peace, and desired 
that, if war should become inevitable, France should main- 
tain entire freedom of action, and should enter upon the 
struggle as an independent Power, and not as the instru- 
ment of the European Concert. He had, therefore, while 
instructing the French envoys to ascertain whether the 
Allies would support France in the event of the task 
of coercing the Spaniards proving beyond her strength, 



strictly enjoined them to avoid committing themselves 
to any definite course of action until the opinion of 
the Ministry at home had been taken upon it. 

Montmorency, unfortunately, regarded the Spanish 
Constitutionalists as the avowed enemies of religion, and 
was eager for war. Moreover, he was entirely ignorant 
of the tortuous paths of diplomacy, and was as wax in the 
hands of such a veteran intriguer as Metternich. Instead, 
therefore, of contenting himself with obtaining an assurance 
from the Eastern Powers Wellington, on behalf of 
England, refused his assent of their moral and material 
support in the event of France declaring war, he 
subscribed to a resolution, proposed by the crafty 
Austrian envoy, that notes should be presented by all the 
ambassadors at Madrid demanding a change in the Spanish 
Constitution, and to a secret clause, whereby the four 
Powers bound themselves to withdraw their ambassadors 
should the Spanish Government fail to return a satisfactory 
answer to their demands. A draft of the notes to be 
presented was then drawn up ; and Montmorency re- 
turned to Paris to submit it to the king before handing 
it to the ambassadors for transmission to Madrid. 

The principal reason that had induced Villele to con- 
sent to Chateaubriand's nomination to the Congress was 
the belief that he had imbibed the liberal opinions of his 
friend Canning during his stay in England, and that he 
would, therefore, serve as a useful counterpoise to the 
warlike predilections of the Foreign Minister. A word 
of warning from Chateaubriand might have prevented 
Montmorency from allowing himself to be made the 
catspaw of Metternich ; but that word was never spoken. 
Chateaubriand was quick to perceive that not only was his 
colleague committing the French Ministry to the policy 



which he himself secretly favoured, but that he was 
ruining his political prospects by his indiscretion, for it 
would be impossible for Villele to overlook such wilful 
disregard of his instructions, and that his fall would mean 
his own elevation. He was, therefore, quite content to 
keep in the background, and leave the conduct of the 
negotiations entirely in the hands of Montmorency. 

The latter was not a little surprised at this self-efface- 
ment on the part of a man, as a rule, very far from 
inclined to hide his light under a bushel, but he does not 
appear to have had any suspicion of his real motive. " I 
do not much like the general position in which he has 
placed himself/' he writes to Madame Recamier ; " he is 
looked upon as singularly taciturn ; he assumes a stiff and 
reserved manner, which makes others feel ill at ease in his 
presence. 1 shall make every effort, before I leave, to 
establish more congenial relations between him and his 

Montmorency had no occasion to trouble himself to 
secure this result. No sooner had the Foreign Minister 
started for Paris than Chateaubriand emerged from his 
shell all affability and courtesy. In a very few days he 
had succeeded in ingratiating himself with the allied 
sovereigns, more particularly with the Emperor Alexander, 
whose indignation against the disturbers of the monarchi- 
cal institutions of Spain he artfully encouraged, and who, 
in return, promised him his unlimited support both for 
his policy and for himself. 

Meanwhile Mathieu de Montmorency had arrived in 
Paris, where Louis XVIII. offered him a dukedom in 
return for his services at the Congress. The king wished 
to bestow upon him the title of Due de Verone ; but 
Montmorency would not relinquish his name, even to 



please his sovereign, and, accordingly, he was created 
Due Mathieu de Montmorency, as the head of his illus- 
trious family already bore the title of Due de Montmorency. 
During his absence the elections had taken place, and still 
further strengthened the war party in the Chamber of 
Deputies ; while, on the other hand, the Constitutionalists 
in Spain were carrying all before them, and the perjured 
despot's throne, if not his life, seemed in imminent peril. 

Such being the condition of affairs, Villele heard with 
indignation and alarm how completely his colleague had 
committed France to the policy of the Eastern Powers. 
There was no likelihood that the Spaniards, now flushed 
with triumph, would make the least concession of the kind 
demanded, in which case France stood pledged, if Mont- 
morency 's action was ratified, to withdraw her ambassador 
from Madrid at once. He endeavoured to persuade the 
representatives of the other Powers to postpone, for the 
present, the despatch of the threatening notes, but to no 

Montmorency, in the meantime, was urging on the 
Cabinet the necessity of submitting a similar note to 
Madrid, in conformity with the engagements he had 
entered into at Verona. The king, however, probably 
influenced by Wellington, who had stopped in Paris on 
his homeward journey, and warned him against permitting 
himself to be made the tool of the Eastern Powers, advised 
delay, and, a few days later, to the intense chagrin of 
Montmorency, appointed Villele President of the Council 
of Ministers. 

In virtue of his new position, Villele at once opened 
negotiations with the Spanish Cortes, without even con- 
sulting the Foreign Minister. Montmorency thereupon 
called his colleagues together, and, in the presence of the 



king, read to them the note which he had addressed to 
the French ambassador at Madrid, and called upon them 
to approve or disavow his action. 

The Cabinet was divided, but the king put a stop to 
the discussion by siding with Villele. The same day 
Montmorency tendered his resignation, which was 

Villele saw that the resignation of a man like Mont- 
morency, popular at once with the Congress, the Court, 
the Royalists, and the Church, would mean the speedy 
downfall of his own Ministry, unless he could replace him 
by some one who would be likely to satisfy these powerful 
interests. There was obviously only one person who could 
fulfil these requirements Montmorency's principal col- 
league at Verona. Chateaubriand was by no means a 
favourite at Court ; but, on the other hand, he had won 
golden opinions from the allied sovereigns at the Congress, 
and was the idol of the ultra-Royalists and the clergy. 
Villele believed also that Chateaubriand would show him- 
self more in harmony with his own views on the Spanish 
Question than Montmorency had done, and he, accordingly, 
advised the king to offer the vacant portfolio to the author 
of Atala. 

Chateaubriand could with difficulty conceal his delight 
at finding the post he had so long coveted at last within 
his grasp ; but, prompted either by vanity or, possibly, 
by some decent scruples for the feelings of his old friend 
Mathieu de Montmorency, he feigned great reluctance to 
accept it. " I refused Villele at twelve," he writes to 
Madame Rcamier. " The king sent for me at four, and 
Kept me an hour and a half preaching to me, I resisting. 
At length he ordered me to obey. I obeyed. So now 7 
shall remain near you ; but this Ministry will kill me." 



Mathieu de Montmorency was naturally much mortified 
at seeing himself supplanted by the friend who had so 
indignantly protested against the insinuation that he had 
any designs upon the Foreign Office, but he was far too 
high-minded a man to make a parade of his own feelings, 
still less to indulge in useless recriminations. " He con- 
tinued to honour," says Lamartine, " sometimes in retire- 
ment, sometimes at the Court, the king who disavowed 
him, the Minister who dismissed him, and the friend who 
abandoned him an example almost unique among those 
parties and assemblies where triumph hardens the heart 
and defeat depraves it, and where changes of position are 
so often changes of language, of cause, and of fidelity." l 
There can be no doubt, however, that a chivalrous desire to 
spare the lady of the Abbaye-au-Bois the pain of witnessing 
an open breach between her two most cherished friends 
had much to do with the courtesy with which he continued 
to treat Chateaubriand. A few days after his resignation 
he writes to Madame R6camier : 

" I wish, aitH*6ie amie, to inform you at once of the 
result of the meeting about which you were inclined to be 
uneasy. I have just come away from it. I had only to 
ward off his civilities, excuses, and protestations. I believe 
that I replied to them quite straightforwardly, without ill- 
humour, anger, or weakness, and passed on without delay 
to the business details which I had to give him, and which 
he took in very good part. We separated on the footing 
on which we must remain, and in which there is nothing 
particularly embarrassing for you. 

" I am sorry that I cannot see you personally to assure 
you anew of my affection. Pray send me news of your 

1 Lamartine's History of the Restoration of the Monarchy in France, 
iv. 71. 



health, and also Phedon, which will sustain me with sublime 
thoughts in my retirement." 

Chateaubriand had assured Madame Rcamier that the 
post of Foreign Minister would be his death, but we see 
no sign of dying in what followed. No sooner did he 
join the Ministry than he flung aside the mask of 
moderation which he had hitherto assumed, and boldly 
declared himself in favour of the very policy which had 
cost poor Montmorency his place in the Cabinet. It was 
in vain that England tendered her mediation ; it was in 
vain that his friend Canning wrote expressing his amaze- 
ment at this sudden and complete change in Chateau- 
briand's views, and exhorting him to leave the Spanish 
revolution " to burn itself out within its own crater " ; it 
was in vain that champions of constitutional liberty like 
General Foy, and far-seeing statesmen like Talleyrand, 
denounced the proposed intervention, the one on the 
ground of justice, the other on that of expediency. 
Chateaubriand turned a deaf ear to all appeals. His fiery 
eloquence roused the war-party to a pitch of frenzy against 
which it was hopeless for Villele to protest ; the king's 
speech at the opening of the Chambers virtually amounted 
to a declaration of war, and, on April 7, 100,000 French 
troops, under the command of the Due d'Angoulme, 
crossed the Bidassoa. 

During this eventful period Madame R6camier con- 
tinued to be the recipient of all her friend's confidences : 

" I could not see you yesterday, as the Chamber of 
Peers adjourned too late. I pass to-day at the Council 
with the king and in my salon ; and I shall work all 
night to speak, perhaps, to-morrow, as my speech is not 
yet finished. The Constitutionnel asserts again this morning 
that I read the speech at the Abbaye-au-Bois. You see 



how your friends treat you, and how well informed they 
are. Let it pass. Pray for me, as I do for you. To- 
morrow or Tuesday will be a decisive day in my political 
career. I love you, and that sustains me. After my 
speech, I shall be more at liberty, and wholly yours." 

And again : 

" Several foreign ambassadors have called upon me to 
beg me to reply to Mr. Canning's speech. 1 They found 
me at work upon the very speech which they wanted. 
You can understand that this has spurred me on a little, 
by promising me a European success. I am going to 
bury myself in my work, and I will show it to you. But 
I shall not be able to see you to-day, which counter- 
balances the pleasure I feel at my political success. Pardon, 
and love me a little for the sake of my fame. Till to- 
morrow ! " 

Soon after Chateaubriand became Foreign Minister, 
Madame Recamier's former adorer Benjamin Constant, 
who had taken an active part in opposing the war, was 
prosecuted by the Government on account of two 
pamphlets which he had written, and was sentenced to 
pay a fine and undergo a term of imprisonment. Constant 
now visited Madame Recamier but seldom ; but he came 
to the Abbaye-au-Bois on this occasion to ask her to 
intercede for him with Chateaubriand. She did so, and 
his sentence was commuted to a simple fine. 

Angoulme's campaign in Spain was short and decisive. 
The Constitutionalists, badly armed, badly led, and divided 
among themselves, were, of course, quite incapable ot 
coping with disciplined troops. No serious resistance was 

1 This was the speech which Canning delivered in the House of 
Commons on April 8, in laying on the table the despatches relating to 
the affairs of Spain. 

209 o 


met with, except at Cadiz, and the triumph of the French 
arms was used to stamp out in the most merciless way the 
adherents of liberty. Ferdinand VII. returned to Madrid, 
and ruled for the rest of his worthless life as the most 
absolute of sovereigns. 

Chateaubriand's Spanish policy has been made the sub- 
ject of the most extravagant praise on the part of some 
of his contemporaries ; but the modern writer will prob- 
ably see in it nothing but an utterly unjustifiable inter- 
ference with the right of a free people to choose their own 
form of government, with the puerile idea of restoring 
French prestige by means of a military parade, and, at the 
same time, identifying his own name with a great public 
event. However, for the moment at any rate, his 
triumph was complete. The glory of military successes 
encircled the monarchy. The Royalists were exultant, 
and deluded themselves with the belief that Angoulme's 
cheaply-gained successes had rekindled in the French army 
something of its old enthusiasm for its Bourbon masters. 
The clergy saw in the victory of their brethren in Spain a 
promise of returning power for themselves. The allied 
sovereigns sent him cordial congratulations and numerous 
decorations. The journals vied with one another in ex- 
tolling the statesmanlike qualities of the Foreign Minister. 
The salons resounded with his praises. He was the hero 
of the hour. 

Madame Rcamier sympathised to the full with the 
success of her friend, but she could not fail to perceive 
that his acceptance of office had, in a great measure, put 
an end to the pleasant intercourse which they had formerly 
enjoyed. Chateaubriand's daily visits to the Abbaye-au- 
Bois were now frequently interrupted by meetings of the 
Cabinet or by the sittings of the Chambers ; and when he 



came she saw that he was greatly changed. The temper 
and character of the great writer, like that of so many 
other men of letters who have been called to play a promi- 
nent part in political life, had not been proof against the 
intoxication of fame and success. The adulation of the 
great world of Paris, more especially that part of it to 
whose flattery he was most susceptible the fine ladies of 
the Faubourg St. Germain had injured, temporarily at 
least, the pure and devoted affection he still continued to 
profess for her. Whereas she had hitherto found him, 
notwithstanding his fits of depression, one of the kindest 
and most considerate of friends, he was now quick to take 
offence, absurdly sensitive to the least breath of criticism, 
fretful and capricious as a spoiled child. Sometimes he 
would neglect her for days together ; at others he would 
be unreasonably exacting in his demands on her time and 
attention ; and, moreover, she noticed with pain and 
uneasiness that, as her niece diplomatically expresses it, 
"he no longer treated her with that respectful reserve, 
characteristic of those permanent sentiments which she 
wished only to inspire." 

Another source of unpleasantness for her lay in the now 
very strained relations which existed between Chateau- 
briand and Mathieu de Montmorency. The latter, as we 
have seen, had behaved with rare magnanimity towards 
Chateaubriand at the time when he had sided with Villele 
against him, and consequently secured the post which his 
own delicate sense of honour had prompted him to resign. 
But it was too much to expect him to continue to do so 
when he saw the new Minister pluming himself upon the 
successful issue of the very policy to which his predecessor 
had pledged himself at Verona. With the tenderest con- 

Isideration for Madame Rcamier's peace of mind, it was 


impossible for him to altogether conceal his contempt for 
a man who could stoop to such duplicity to further his 
own interests. 

In the midst of these perplexities, Madame Recamier's 
niece, Amelie de Cyvoct, was taken ill, and on her 
recovery the doctors advised her wintering in a warm 
climate. Madame Rcamier welcomed this suggestion as 
a means of escaping from her difficulties ; and, at the 
beginning of November, set out for Italy. The faithful 
Ballanche begged to be allowed to follow, which he did, 
accompanied by Jean-Jacques Ampere, who had become 
as devoted to Madame Rcamier as any of her older 
friends. " Perhaps nothing," says Madame Mohl, " can 
show her peculiar charm so well as the attachment of 
this young man. He had lost his own mother when a 
child, and he found in Madame R6camier all the sympathy 
and interest that a beautiful young mother gives so lavishly 
to an affectionate son." 

This departure for Italy was a great effort for Madame 
Rcamier, but, as she told one of her friends some years 
later, she saw that a temporary separation from Chateau- 
briand was the only course open to her under the circum- 
stances. By the time she returned to Paris she hoped 
that Chateaubriand would have come to see that the blame 
for their recent misunderstandings rested entirely with 
himself ; that the friction between him and Mathieu de 
Montmorency would be at an end, and that it would be 
possible for them to resume their former pleasant relations, 
as if nothing had ever occurred to interrupt them. 

Chateaubriand could not but be aware that his own 
conduct was the principal cause of his friend's leaving 
Paris, but, true to his egotistical nature, he affected to 
believe that he was the injured party. " Always fearing 



to hurt your feelings/' he says, "when you think so 
lightly of mine, I write you this to reach you as you 
pass through Lyons. I shall be in Paris on Thursday, and 
you will be no longer there. Well, you would have it so. 
Will you find me here on your return ? Apparently, that 
is of little importance to you. To one who, like you, 
has the heart to break up everything, what signifies the 
future ? However, I shall await you. If I am alive on your 
return, you will find me the same as you leave me, my 
every thought of you, and never having ceased to love 

He evidently thought that her journey was but a 
whim, and that she would soon return, and predicts as 
much in a letter which he sends her a few days later. 
However, she did not do so until the summer of 1825 ; 
ind, after a few months, Chateaubriand took umbrage 
at her continued absence, and for more than a year there 
seems to have been a break in their correspondence. 


Madame Recamier arrives in Rome The Due de Laval 
Elizabeth, Duchess of Devonshire Her patronage of art and 
literature Illness and death of Cardinal Consalvi Grief of 
the duchess The Bonaparte family in Rome Madame 
Recamier meets Queen Hortense at St. Peter's Torlonia's 
ball A comedy of errors Illness and death of the Duchess 
of Devonshire Singular conduct of the young duke A 
curious story Madame Recamier's letter to Mathieu de 
Montmorency Madame Salvage de Faverolles Affairs in 
France The Septennial and Revenue Bills Strong opposition 
to the latter measure in the Chambers Chateaubriand remains 
silent Indignation of his colleagues His ignominious dis- 
missal from office His resentment and its results 

MADAME RJECAMIER arrived in Rome at the end of 
November. Her friend Canova was no longer there to 
greet her : he had died at Venice more than two years 
earlier, from a disease brought on by the continual use of 
carving-tools, and his sceptre had passed to the Danish 
sculptor Thorwaldsen ; but she received a warm welcome 
from her old admirer Adrien de Montmorency, now 
Due de Laval, and French Ambassador to the Vatican. 
He placed his carriages, horses, and servants at her 
disposal, came to see her every day, and did all in his 
power to make her voluntary exile as pleasant as possible. 
She took lodgings in the Via Baburino, opposite the 
Greek Church, and her evening receptions went on just 


as if she had been still in Paris. "Every evening," 
writes Madame Chevreux, " she is surrounded by intimate 
friends, such as M. Dugas-Montbel, the Due de Laval- 
Montmorency, M. de Girr, the Abb6 Canova, Guerin, 
Leopold Robert, Del6cluze, &c. Ballanche and Made- 
moiselle Amelie remain with Madame Recamier ; Jean- 
Jacques [Ampere] passes part of his days with them. 
And so the Abbaye-au-Bois is reconstituted in Italy." 

The acknowledged leader of society in Rome at this 
time was Elizabeth, Duchess of Devonshire, who had 
taken up her residence there after her husband's death in 
1814, and enjoyed the friendship of many distinguished 
Italians, particularly of Cardinal Consalvi, Pius VII. 's able 
and liberal-minded Secretary of State ; while her house 
was the chief resort of the brilliant throng which flocked 
to the Eternal City from all parts of Europe. 

The duchess, who was a daughter of the fourth Earl of 
Bristol, had been one of the most beautiful women of her 
day, although she was now pale and emaciated. When 
very young she had married Mr. John Forster, who, 
however, died a few years later. After his death she 
spent some time on the Continent, and at Lausanne met 
Gibbon the historian, who gave it as his opinion that " if 
she chose to beckon the Lord Chancellor from his wool- 
sack, in full sight of the world, he could not resist 
obedience " ; and is said to have proposed to her upon his 
knees, from which position, owing to the violence of his 
emotion and his extreme corpulence, he was unable to rise 
until she had summoned her maid to assist him. She did 
not return the author's affection, although she was a great 
admirer of his " History," part of which he read to her 
before sending it to his publishers in London ; and in 1 809 
became the second wife of the fifth Duke of Devonshire. 



She was a munificent patron of literature and art, 
although the omniscient George Ticknor was of opinion 
that " she attempted to play the Maecenas a little too 
much." In 1816 she printed, at her own expense, the 
Fifth Satire of the First Book of Horace, with a versified 
Italian translation, and, two years later, an edition of the 
jfcneid of Virgil, with a translation by Annibal Caro. 
Both these works were embellished with fine engravings 
by the most famous artists in Italy. 

The duchess was an old friend of the Due de Laval's, 
whom she had known as an emigre in England, and both 
he and Mathieu de Montmorency always spoke of her as 
" la duchesse cousine" though there was no tie of relation- 
ship between them. Madame Recamier had first met her 
during her visit to England in 1802, and the acquaintance 
thus formed was renewed in Paris after the Restoration, 
and soon ripened into a warm friendship. 

At the time of Madame Recamier's arrival in Rome, 
Cardinal Consalvi was seriously ill, and she became the 
sympathising confidante of the alternate hopes and fears of 
her English friend. The cardinal's illness, to the in- 
expressible grief of the duchess, terminated fatally at the 
beginning of the following January. 

The Carnival that year at Rome was a very brilliant 
one. The Due de Laval, the French Ambassador, enter- 
tained on a regal scale, and gave several magnificent balls ; 
but Madame Recamier adhered to her resolution not to 
attend any large gatherings, and during her stay in Rome 
made but few exceptions to this rule. One of these was 
on the occasion of some private theatricals at the Austrian 
Embassy, in which her niece had been invited to take 
part. Mademoiselle de Cyvoct appears to have acquitted 
herself with great credit, and her aunt was much gratified 



by the encomiums bestowed upon her acting. Madame 
Recamier was accompanied by the Duchess of Devonshire, 
the first time the latter had appeared in society since the 
death of her friend the cardinal. " She was very sad," 
writes Madame Recamier to her nephew Paul David, 
" and when the hall resounded with laughter, she would 
look sorrowfully at me, as if to invite my sympathy." 

By the treaties of 1 8 1 5 the members of the Bonaparte 
family were not allowed to travel or change their place of 
residence without the unanimous consent of the five 
Great Powers ; but many of them had obtained permission 
to reside in the Papal States, and in Rome Madame 
Recamier found Napoleon's mother, " Madame Mere," 
as she was still called ; her brother, Cardinal Fesch, who 
had one of the finest private picture galleries in Europe ; 
the Princess Borghese (Pauline Bonaparte) ; Jerome, 
ex-King of Westphalia ; Louis, ex-King of Holland, and 
her old adorer Lucien Bonaparte, who had been created 
Prince de Canino by Pope Pius VII., and was held in 
much esteem in Rome, although he seldom went into 
society, preferring to divide his time between his children,- 
to whom he was devotedly attached, and his books. Soon 
after her arrival the Bonapartes were reinforced by the 
arrival of the Duchesse de St. Leu (Queen Hortense) 
and her two sons, Napoleon and Louis (afterwards 
Napoleon III.). 

Madame Recamier met the ex-queen one day at 
St. Peter's, whither she had gone to listen to the music, 
and was warmly greeted by Hortense, with whom she 
had been on very friendly terms until she had the 
misfortune to fall under the ban of the Emperor's 

In deference to the feelings of the Due de Laval, whose 



position as the accredited representative of the Bourbons 
precluded him from holding any intercourse with the 
rival dynasty, Madame Rcamier had hitherto refrained 
from visiting or receiving any of the Bonaparte family ; 
but she now spent a good deal of her time in the society 
of the ex-queen, with whom she made daily expeditions 
to the different places of interest around Rome. 

One of the chief events of the Carnival was a grand 
masked ball given by Torlonia, the banker, at his magni- 
ficent palace on the Corso. Madame R6camier and 
Queen Hortense were very nearly of the same height and 
figure, and the latter persuaded her friend to break 
through her rule and attend the ball, and, moreover, 
arranged that they should both wear the same costume 
a white satin domino, trimmed with pearls in which 
disguise it would be very difficult, even for their most 
intimate friends, to distinguish one from the other. As a 
mark of recognition, Hortense was to carry a bouquet of 
roses, while Madame Rcamier wore a wreath of the same 
flowers. We will let Madame Recamier give her own 
account of the comedy of errors which followed : 

" I arrived at the ball, escorted by the Due de Laval, 
and eagerly scanned the large and brilliant crowd which 
thronged the rooms in search of the queen, whom I at 
length perceived in company with Prince Jerome Bona- 
parte. In passing and repassing each other, we found an 
opportunity of exchanging a few words, and speedily con- 
cocted a little plot. At a moment when the crowd was 
very great, I suddenly left the Due de Laval, and, stepping 
back a few paces, hastily unfastened my wreath. The 
queen, who was on the alert, gave me her bouquet in 
exchange, and took my place on the arm of the ambassador 
of Louis XVIII., while I occupied hers, under the escort 



of the ex-King of Westphalia. She was soon surrounded 
by all the representatives of the Foreign Powers, and I 
by all the Bonapartists who happened to be in Rome. 
While she was amused at the greetings which, as the 
companion of the ambassador, she received from the 
diplomatists many of whom, no doubt, she knew I was 
astonished, in my turn, at the revelation of regrets and 
hopes which people generally express only to members of 
their own party. Before suspicion could be aroused, we 
resumed our places, and, when next we met, changed again ; 
in short, we repeated this jest until it ceased to amuse us, 
which very soon happened, for everything amusing is from 
its nature of short duration. In the meanwhile, this ruse, 
which was finally suspected, had created consternation in 
our respective circles. It was rumoured throughout the 
ball-room, that Queen Hortense and Madame Recamier 
wore the same disguise ; and the perplexity of those who 
addressed either of us, while still uncertain of our identity, 
prolonged for some time our enjoyment of the joke. 
Everybody took it in good part, with the exception of 
the Princesse de Lieven, who never laid aside politics, 
even at a ball, and who thought it disgraceful that she 
should have been compromised by association with a 
Bonapartist." 1 

At the beginning of the spring Madame Recamier 
suffered a severe blow from the loss of her friend the 
Duchess of Devonshire, who had never recovered from 
the shock of Cardinal Consalvi's death, and who died on 
March 30, after a few days' illness. 

The only one of the duchess's relations at that time in 
Rome was her step-son, the young Duke of Devonshire, 
to whom Madame Recamier wrote, begging to be allowed 

1 Souvenirs, ii. 281. 


to see her. In answer to her request she received the 
following letter : 


"March 27. 

" DEAREST MADAME RECAMIER, Pray do not think 
me unkind, if I beg of you to be tranquil. When the 
time comes for her friends to see her, you will be the first 
I shall think of, and I will send for you. To-day, no 
one, not even myself, is allowed to enter her room. 
Believe me, I fully appreciate your tender friendship for 

" Your devoted servant, 


The following night, however, the duke wrote to her 
again : 

" Come, dear madame, if you have strength to promise 
me not to enter her room too abruptly. 


Madame Rcamier hastened to her friend's house, 
where she found the Due de Laval, who had also been 
sent for. They were kept waiting for a considerable 
time ; but at length the duke appeared, and conducted 
them to the sick-room, where they saw at once that the 
end was only a question of a few minutes. The duchess 
was unable to speak, but she recognised her friends, and 
pressed Madame Recamier's hand affectionately before she 
died. The next day the duke sent Madame R6camier a 
ring, which the dead woman had worn until the last, and 
had bequeathed to her. 



The conduct of the young duke in refusing to allow 
his step-mother's most intimate friends to see her until so 
near the end was much commented upon in Rome, and 
revived the old story that the Duke of Devonshire was 
not the son of the previous duke's first wife, the celebrated 
beauty Georgiana, but of the deceased duchess herself. 
According to this account, Georgiana, who was confined 
of a daughter at the same time that her friend, then Lady 
Elizabeth Forster, gave birth to a son, consented to the 
substitution of the children ; and the scandal-mongers 
hinted that the duke had been afraid that the dying 
woman might reveal this secret. Madame Rcamier, 
however, believed, and the Due de Laval shared her con- 
viction, that the Duke of Devonshire's somewhat unusual 
behaviour was to be accounted for by the fact that he had 
reason to suppose that his step-mother's Protestantism had 
been shaken during her intimacy with Cardinal Consalvi ; 
and so, fearing that when dying she might desire to be 
received into the Roman Catholic Church, he would not 
permit any members of that communion to have access to 
her until she had lost the power of speech. 

As spring advanced Madame Recamier's friends in 
Paris began to urge her to return, but, partly owing to 
the wish to completely re-establish her niece's health, and 
partly owing to the fear of falling again into the old 
stormy relationship with Chateaubriand, she decided to 
remain in Italy until the following year. " If I were to 
return to Paris," she says in a letter to Mathieu de Mont- 
morency, " I should meet again with the old disturbing 
influences that were the cause of my leaving. If M. 
de Chateaubriand were on bad terms with me, I should 
be deeply grieved ; if, on the other hand, he was amiably 
disposed, the result would be an annoyance I am deter- 



mined to avoid for the future. It makes me sad to have 
to remain separated from my friends for another six 
months; but it is better to make this sacrifice, and I 
confess I feel it to be a necessary one." 

Among the friends whom Madame Recamier made 
about this time in Rome was Madame Salvage de Fave- 
rolles, afterwards the devoted friend of Queen Hortense 
and the confidante of Louis Napoleon's ambitious schemes. 
She was a tall woman, with a fine figure, a harsh voice, 
and an abnormally long nose. The Due de Laval, who 
was afraid of her temper, used to caution his friends not 
to offend her lest she should run her nose through their 
bodies. Madame Salvage had a perfect passion for 
celebrities, and took a violent fancy to Madame Recamier. 
The latter, however, did not return her affection, while 
her friends were by no means prepossessed in her favour. 
On the other hand, she recognised her sterling qualities, 
and introduced her to Queen Hortense, to whom Madame 
Salvage attached herself for the remainder of the ex- 
queen's eventful life. 

While Madame Recamier was living thus quietly at 
Rome, the condition of affairs in France, both in the 
Chambers and the Cabinet, was anything but pacific. 
Two important measures were presented to the Chambers 
during the session of 1824. The first of these was a 
Septennial Bill, which proposed to repeal the law by which 
one-fifth of the Chamber of Deputies retired in rotation 
each year, and to give the existing House a duration of 
seven years from its election in 1822. By this means the 
Government intended to maintain intact the Royalist 
majority in the Chamber for the next five years, and thus 
consolidate the Bourbon dynasty. This reactionary 



measure one of the worst instances on record of the abuse 
of a Parliamentary majority passed both Houses by large 
majorities, in spite of the opposition of the Liberals and 
the more moderate Royalists. 

The second measure, for which Villele was mainly 
responsible, was a financial one, and aimed at reducing the 
interest on the Funds and compelling the fund-holders to 
convert their old stock into new, which would represent 
an amount of capital and interest considerably smaller than 
they had hitherto possessed. This would have been an 
equitable and salutary measure enough in England and 
other countries, where the State borrows a real and definite 
capital, and naturally reserves to itself the right of paying 
off the lenders, when it can replace them by others who 
will be content with a lower rate of interest. But in 
France the Consolidated Funds represented for the most 
part interminable annuities indemnities for the bank- 
ruptcies and confiscations of the Revolution and the 
Government, in proposing their conversion, violated both 
the spirit and the letter of their engagements. 

The Bill passed the elective Chamber without much 
difficulty, but it met with determined opposition in the 
Chamber of Peers, where the Church party, led by Quelen, 
Archbishop of Paris, made common cause with the rich 
capitalists, whose incomes were threatened by the measure, 
and the Liberals, who opposed it in order to embarrass 
the Government. Villele, however, relied upon the 
eloquence of Chateaubriand to turn the scale in favour of 
the Ministry, but, to his consternation, his colleague made 
no attempt to intervene in the debate, with the result that 
the Foreign Minister's personal following concluded that 
they were at liberty to vote as they pleased, and the Bill 
was lost by a small majority. 



Chateaubriand's action on this occasion was generally 
attributed at the time to dissatisfaction with the measure, 
and he was much applauded for his disinterested conduct ; 
but, according to his own account, given some years later, 
he was, though by no means enthusiastic about it, in favour 
of the Bill indeed, he voted for it with the rest of the 
Ministry and abstained from joining in the debate 
simply because Villele had omitted to supply him with 
the financial details necessary for an effective speech. 
But whatever his reason may have been, it certainly seems 
extraordinary that he should have taken no steps whatever 
to inform his colleague of his intentions, after apparently 
giving him to understand that he might count on his 

The indignation of Villele at what he considered 
Chateaubriand's treason was unbounded. He had never 
forgiven him for his volte-face on the Spanish question, 
which had forced him to consent to a policy of which he 
strongly disapproved ; and he suspected him, not without 
reason, of wishing to supplant him, as he had already 
supplanted Montmorency. The rest of the Ministry 
shared his indignation, and Corbiere, the Minister of the 
Interior, went so far as to declare that when Chateaubriand 
came into the Council Chamber at one door he would go 
out at the other. Villele, accordingly, confident in the 
support of the Cabinet, went to the king, and advised him 
to dismiss the Foreign Minister, representing that it was 
impossible for him to work in conjunction with so untrust- 
worthy a colleague. 

The king, who had always detested Chateaubriand, 
and had only consented to his inclusion in the Ministry 
after much pressure, was only too glad of an excuse to 
get rid of him ; and Villele took care that the royal 



command should be communicated to his colleague in a 
manner which should give an additional sting to his 

An accidental circumstance served to still further 
embitter Chateaubriand's dismissal. On June 6 (Whit 
Sunday) he presented himself at the Tuileries to pay his 
respects to the Comte d'Artois. The previous evening 
he had attended a meeting of the Cabinet, where his 
opinion on the matters under discussion had been invited 
and listened to with the usual deference ; and he had 
received no indication, either by word or look, of the 
intention of his colleagues to get rid of him. Now, 
however, while awaiting the prince's pleasure, he noticed 
that his presence seemed to arouse an unusual amount of 
interest, and that the courtiers who came and went 
regarded him with surprise, and exchanged significant 
glances with one another. Presently an usher approached, 
and whispered that a gentleman wished to speak to him ; 
and, going into the Hall of the Marshals, he found his 
private secretary, Hyacinth Pilorge, who handed him a 
packet, saying, as he did so, " Monsieur is no longer 
Minister." The packet, it appeared, had been sent to the 
Foreign Minister's hotel, but Chateaubriand had not been 
there that morning, and, in his absence, it had been 
opened by the Due de Lauzun, one of the Foreign Office 
officials. The contents of the packet were as follows : 

" MONSIEUR LE VICOMTE, I obey the orders of the 
King in transmitting instantly to your Excellency an 
ordinance which His Majesty has just issued. 

" I have the honour to be, &c. 
" (Signed) J. DE VILLELE. 

" The President of the Council of Ministers. 
225 p 


~ The Sieur Vicomte de Villele, President of our Council 
of Ministers, and Secretary of State for the Department of 
Finance, is charged 'par interim with the portfolio of 
Foreign Affairs in the place of the Sieur Vicomte de 

" The President of our Council of Ministers is charged 
with the execution of the present ordinance, which shall 
be inserted in the bulletin of the laws. 

" Given at Paris, in our Chateau of the Tuileries, June 6, 
in the year of grace 1824, and the twenty-ninth of our 

"By the King 

" (Signed) Louis. 

" (Signed) J. DE VILLELE. 

" The President of the Council of Ministers" 

The resentment of the man thus insulted was implacable. 
He vowed that the jealous mediocrities and servile 
courtiers of which the Ministry was composed should 
soon learn to appreciate him at his proper value, and 
should bitterly rue the hour in which they had had the 
temerity to drive genius into opposition. To this end all 
his eloquence, all his incomparable polemic energy, was 
devoted. For four years with voice and pen, in the 
Chamber and in the Press, he never ceased to assail the 
Government from which he had been so imprudently 
expelled. He succeeded in his purpose of overthrowing 
his enemy Villele, but his opposition went much further 
than that, much further, indeed, than he would have 
allowed it to go could he have foreseen the consequences 
of his hostility. Chateaubriand had done more than any 
man in France to bring about the Restoration ; he did 
more than any man to destroy it. From the day he 



retired from office, followed by all the intelligence of his 
party, and by the Journal des Debats and all the other 
Royalist organs, save those in the pay of the Government, 
we may date those divisions in the Legitimist camp which 
paved the way for that " fortuitous concourse of atoms," 
which, within the space of a few years, converted an 
insignificant minority in the Chamber into an over- 
whelming majority, and brought about the downfall of 
the dynasty whose position at that moment seemed so 



Madame Rcamier's opinion of Chateaubriand's fall She 
sets out for Naples Charles Lenormant Winter in Rome 
Madame Swetchine The bas-relief of Eudorus and Cymo- 
docea Madame Rdcamier starts for France Visit to Canova's 
native village Visit to Caroline Murat at Trieste Harsh 
treatment of the ex-queen by the Powers Madame R6- 
camier returns to Paris Renewal of her friendly relations 
with Chateaubriand Marriage of Am61ie de Cyvoct 
Mathieu de Montmorency is elected to the Academy And 
is appointed Governor to the Due de Bordeaux His sudden 
death His noble character His widow's letters to Madame 

MADAME RECAMIER had not heard from Chateaubriand 
for some weeks, he having, as we have said, taken umbrage 
at her continued absence from Paris ; and it was a letter 
from Mathieu de Montmorency which first acquainted 
her with the change in the political fortunes of her 
ambitious friend. 

Montmorency, who was strongly opposed to Villele's 
revenue bill, had forgotten the differences between himself 
and the fallen Minister, and expressed his generous appro- 
bation of Chateaubriand's conduct. " His behaviour," he 
says, " is simple, noble, and courageous. He has just 
come into the Chamber, where I am writing, to resume 
his old place." 

The Due de Laval, however, who had returned to Paris 



on leave of absence, took a very different view of the 
matter, and wrote to her deploring the violence with which 
Chateaubriand was assailing his former colleagues, and 
pointing out how seriously he was injuring his political 
prospects by adopting such a course ; while the old Due 
de Doudeauville, who was a supporter of Villele, echoed 
his complaints, and suggested that if Madame Rcamier 
could see her way to return to Paris at this juncture, 
" she might be of infinite service in softening these 

Madame Rcamier fully shared Chateaubriand's indig- 
nation at the insulting character of his dismissal : but she 
could not help agreeing with the Due de Laval that it 
would have been more dignified and more in keeping with 
his reputation and his interests to have remained silent ; 
and she felt that in this respect his conduct compared very 
unfavourably with that of Mathieu de Montmorency 
under somewhat similar circumstances. It was thought 
probable that the latter would return to his old place in 
the Cabinet ; but his dislike to the revenue bill proved an 
insurmountable obstacle, and the vacant portfolio was 
given to the Baron de Damas, who was a great friend of 
the Due d'Angoulme, and whose servility to the Court 
was unimpeachable. 

Madame Recamier's regret at Chateaubriand's fall was 
probably not untinged with a feeling of relief that the 
principal bar to a renewal of their former friendship had 
thereby been removed. Now that he was no longer the 
most prominent figure in his sovereign's councils, and no 
longer the centre of a sycophantic herd of courtiers and 
place-hunters, she foresaw that he would soon begin to 
repent the severance of a connection which had been the 

t-t-:~r "olace of his life, before the fumes of the incense of 


flattery had mounted to his brain. She did not, however, 
on that account decide to hasten her return to Paris, 
knowing well that the longer she remained away, the 
greater would be Chateaubriand's need of her companion- 
ship and sympathy, and the keener his remorse at having 
been the cause of her absence. 

Towards the end of June, Madame Rcamier and her 
niece, accompanied by Ampere and Ballanche, left Rome 
for Naples, travelling for the most part by night in order 
to avoid the heat and the malaria from the Pontine 
marshes. Brigandage was so rampant in Southern Italy 
at this time that they deemed it advisable to secure an 
escort of eighty Austrian soldiers to conduct them along 
the most dangerous parts of the route ; but they reached 
Naples without any adventures. Once again Madame 
Recan. er established herself on the Chiaja, in rooms 
which commanded an exquisite view of the blue waters of 
the sunlit bay and the Island of Capri ; but owing to the 
extreme heat which aggravated a complaint from which 
she suffered much in later life insomnia she passed 
every night for several weeks in rooms at Capo di Monti 
on the heights of Naples. 

Both Madame Recamier's squires were highly pleased 
with Naples. Ballanche, upon whose philosophic mind the 
most beautiful works of art had made but little impression, 
was lost in admiration at the wonders of Nature among 
which he now found himself; while young Ampere, to 
whom this Italian tour was to prove the forerunner of 
wanderings in many lands, took a keen delight in all he 
saw, and was the life and soul of the little party. " I do 
not believe there can be anything more delightful in any 
place in the world," he writes to his father. " The nights 
of Greece and the East cannot be more beautiful. We 



shall go to see Pompeii by one of these delightful nights. 
The illusion will be more perfect in the ancient city at the 
hour when the inhabitants may be supposed to have 
quitted the temples and theatres and to be asleep. I hope 
to write here, for there is less to be seen than at Rome, 
and in the long dreamy days on the seashore the waves 
will bring me many a verse." l 

Madame Rcamier's niece, Amlie de Cyvoct, also 
carried away pleasant recollections of the syren city, for 
it was here that she met Charles Lenormant, a young 
antiquary and one of Champollion's favourite pupils, who 
subsequently became her husband. Under his guidance 
Madame Recamier and her friends made many expedi- 
tions, taking special pleasure in visiting the scenes men- 
tioned by Chateaubriand and Madame de Stael in their 

Madame Recamier returned to Rome at the end of 
November. She had hoped that Mathieu de Montmorency 
would have joined her there ; but the illness of his aged 
mother prevented him leaving Paris. She did not lack 
friends, however, as the approach of the Jubilee brought 
many visitors to the Eternal City, including Mathieu's 
relatives, the Baron and Baronne de Montmorency, the 
Due and Duchesse de Noailles, and Madame de Nesselrode, 
the wife of the Russian Foreign Minister. She also made 
the acquaintance of the celebrated Madame Swetchine, 
who appears to have come to Rome, imbued with some 
prejudices against Madame Recamier. These, however, 
vanished at their first meeting ; and she soon became as 
much attached to her as Madame de Krudener had been. 
" I was a captive before I thought of defending myself," 
she writes to her. " I yielded at once to that irresistible, 

1 Hamcrton's "Modern Frenchmen," p. 273. 


indefinable charm to which you subject even those in whom 
you take no interest." 

During the winter, Madame Recamier passed a good 
deal of her time in the atelier of the sculptor Tenerani, 
whom she had commissioned to execute a bas-relief to 
perpetuate one of Chateaubriand's finest creations, the 
martyrdom of Eudorus and Cymodocea. This work was 
completed in 1828, when the author of Les Martyrs him- 
self was ambassador at Rome, and was greatly admired. 
It is now in the museum at St. Malo Chateaubriand's 
birthplace to which it was bequeathed by Madame 

After Easter, Madame Recamier and her party com- 
menced their homeward journey. On their way they 
stopped for a week in Venice, and then left for Bassano 
to meet the Abb6 Canova, who had promised to conduct 
them to Possagno, his famous brother's native village, 
where a magnificent church, for the erection of which the 
sculptor had bequeathed the greater part of his fortune, 
was being built. This church had been intended by 
Canova for the reception of a colossal statue of Religion, 
on which he was working at the time of his death, and he 
had expressed a wish to be buried there The sculptor 
had been passionately attached to his native village. Every 
autumn it had been his custom to spend some time there, 
and give a sumptuous feast to the workmen engaged upon 
the building of the church. On one of these occasions, it 
is said, he caused all the peasant girls of the neighoouring 
hamlets to pass in review before him, and to each he made 
a present, expending in this way over ten thousand lira. 

The abbe took Madame Recamier to see the little 
church, where his brother's remains lay pending the com- 
pletion of the new building. It was a bare littJe place, the 



only ornament being a magnificent whole-length portrait 
of the deceased sculptor above the high altar. After the 
new church was finished the Abbe Canova was created 
Bishop of Myndus by Pope Gregory XVI. 

From Bassano, Madame R6camier journeyed to Trieste 
to visit her old friend Caroline Murat, ex-Queen of 
Naples, who was living there under the title of Comtesse 
de Lipona, an anagram on the name of the beautiful city 
where she had once reigned. After the judicial murder 
of her husband in 1815, the ex-queen had retired to a 
country house in the neighbourhood of Vienna, where for 
some years she devoted herself to the education of her 
children. She had wished to join her mother and brothers 
at Rome, but permission to do so had been refused by the 
Powers, who considered that it was too near Naples, 
where the perjured tyrant Ferdinand was only able to 
keep his throne through the help of Austrian bayonets. 
They had lately, however, consented to her going as near 
Italy as Trieste. 

Madame Recamier received a very warm welcome from 
Madame Murat, whom she had not seen for eleven years. 
The ex-queen was still very handsome, though she had 
grown somewhat stout, while her manners were as charming 
as ever. She complained bitterly of the irritating restric- 
tions imposed upon her by the Powers, who seemed to 
have shared the high opinion of her statecraft which 
Talleyrand had once expressed, and to have regarded her 
as the most dangerous of all the exiled family. She was 
not allowed to live in Italy, the Low Countries, or 
Switzerland, while France was of course closed to her ; 
nor was she permitted to remain in one place for more 
than a certain length of time. To add to her troubles, 
King Ferdinand had on landing seized all her private 



property at Naples, while the Bourbons had sequestrated 
that in France, including the estate at Neuilly which 
Napoleon had given her. In consequence she was now in 
somewhat straitened circumstances, and her two sons had 
been forced to seek their fortunes in America. The elder 
of these, Louis, who settled in Florida, married a grand- 
niece of Washington, and wrote several commendable 
books about America and her institutions. He died in 
1847. The younger, Lucien, returned to France the year 
after his brother's death, was elected to the Chamber of 
Deputies, and supported the policy of his cousin Louis 
Napoleon. When King Bomba was driven out of Naples 
by his enraged subjects, Lucien Murat issued a manifesto ; 
but the time had not yet come for delivering Italy from 
the Bourbon and Austrian yoke, and the French Govern- 
ment declined to support his claims. 

Madame Recamier only remained a few days at Trieste, 
as she was tired of her wandering life, and then, taking an 
affectionate farewell of her good-natured friend, resumed 
her journey to Paris, where she arrived on May 3, after 
an absence of eighteen months. While at Naples she had 
received the news of the death of Louis XVIII. and the 
accession of Charles X., events which Chateaubriand had 
celebrated by the publication of his rather extravagant 
brochure, Le Roi est mortl Vive le Roil The new 
monarch shared his predecessor's dislike to the great 
writer, but it was not as yet so pronounced ; and on her 
arrival Madame Recamier found that Chateaubriand was 
at Rheims attending the coronation. Mathieu de Mont- 
morency was also absent on the same errand, but wrote, 
begging her to let him know the result of her first inter- 
view with " the melancholy Rene"." 



The faithful Mathieu might have spared himself any 
anxiety on that score. The very day on which he returned 
to Paris, Chateaubriand hastened to the Rue de Sevres. 
No word of explanation or of reproach passed between 
them ; but Madame Rcamier's womanly instinct told 
her at once that it was the friend of the early days at the 
Abbaye-au-Bois who now stood before her the friend 
who had been all the world to her before the intoxication 
of political success, and the adulation of those who are 
ever ready to bow down to it, had interrupted the com- 
panionship which had been so pleasant to them both ; and 
she rejoiced that her self-imposed exile had not been in 
vain. All the little misunderstandings, the querulous 
demands on her time and attention, and the capricious 
and temporary neglect which had sometimes fallen to her 
lot, were now at an end. It was, indeed, a keen delight 
to her to find Chateaubriand resuming his old habits 
the morning note, the afternoon call, the hundred and one 
little kindnesses and attentions which she had come to 
value so much and to miss so sorely ; to be once more 
the chosen confidante of all his hopes and fears, his 
triumphs and his defeats, and to feel that her friendship 
was even more necessary to his happiness than his was to 

It was through Chateaubriand's influence that, a few 
weeks after her return to Paris, Charles Lenormant, the 
young antiquary, to whom her niece was betrothed, received 
the appointment of Inspector of Fine Arts, a post which 
carried with it a considerable salary, and enabled the 
marriage to take place during the ensuing winter. 
Madame Recamier, however, was spared the pain of a 
separation from her adopted daughter, as the latter's 
husband took a house close to the Abbaye-au-Bois, and 



she was thus able to spend a good deal of her time with 
her aunt, and dine with her every day. 

In November of that year Mathieu de Montmorency 
was elected a member of the Academy, a choice which 
caused general astonishment for the duke, greatly as he 
was esteemed, had no literary pretensions whatever and 
was mainly attributed to the influence of " la Circe de 
rAbbaye-au-Bois." " We owe thanks to Madame Rca- 
mier," says Rondelet, " for having witnessed the Academic 
Franchise return so appropriately to that ancient tradition 
of good society, in which a great name passed as a serious 
reason for competition." Montmorency was, it may be 
observed, one of the last of the great noblemen to be 
admitted to the Academy, to give that institution " a per- 
fume of the lady's chamber," as Ballanche expressed it ; 
and, perhaps, it was just as well for its reputation as an 
intellectual centre that a time was not far distant when 
the claims of literature were to be the only ones to receive 
recognition at its hands. 

A few weeks later Montmorency was the recipient of 
another and far more deserved distinction, being appointed 
to preside over the education of the young Due de 
Bordeaux, a selection which was universally applauded. 
He was not, however, destined to enjoy this honour long. 
Since leaving the Ministry he had redoubled his religious 
exercises and mortifications of the flesh, with the result 
that his health had suffered. On Good Friday, while 
kneeling at prayer between his wife and daughter in the 
Church of St. Thomas d'Aquin, he suddenly fainted. 
He was carried into the vestry, and from there home to 
the Hotel de Luynes ; but had scarcely strength to receive 
the sacrament ere he expired. 

Mathieu de Montmorency was a nobleman in the 



highest sense of the word. The sincerity of his religious 
convictions in his later years was beyond dispute, his 
honour unimpeachable, and his charity boundless ; while 
it was his constant endeavour to influence for good the 
frivolous society among which his lot was cast. His 
devotion to Madame Recamier was beyond all praise ; and 
it is, perhaps, not too much to say that it was in a great 
measure owing to his unceasing vigilance that the some- 
what pronounced flirtations in which she indulged in early 
life never developed into anything worse. 

Probably no more eloquent tribute could have been paid 
to the wonderful fascination which Madame Recamier 
exercised over men and women alike, and the unexception- 
able character of her friendships, than the fact that Mathieu 
de Montmorency's wife, like Madame de Chateaubriand, 
had permitted herself to be relegated to a secondary place 
in her husband's affections, in spite of the fact that she was 
passionately devoted to him. 

" I only propose coming to Paris to mingle my tears 
with Adrien's," l she writes, shortly after the duke's death. 
" I shall at least make an effort to see you (do not doubt 
it), but not at your residence. I am afraid I should not 
have sufficient courage to mount those stairs of which he 
has spoken to me so often. He was always in such haste 
to see you ! He loved you so much. Ah, madame ! 
make still greater efforts to join in Heaven him who has 
so well deserved to enter at once into that blissful state." 
In another : " You are so kind to me ; he loved you so 
much ; and you also loved him. Such claims appeal 
direct to the place where my heart was that broken heart 
which beat only for him. I know not if I still have one ; 
yet, when I think of you, I believe I have." 

1 Adrian de Montmorency, Due de Laval. 


A little later the widowed duchess sent to Madame 
Recamier a packet containing the letters which she had 
received at various times from her husband, as to one who 
had a better right to these precious mementos of the dead 
than herself. 



Fall of Villele He is succeeded by Martignac Ministry of 
Public Instruction offered to Chateaubriand He refuses it, 
and demands an embassy He is sent to the Vatican The 
King and the Journal des Debats Chateaubriand's letters 
from Rome First impressions A little ricevimento His 
opinion of English women The tomb of Poussin A New 
Year's greeting An Ambassador's day An odd stranger 
A children's fete Death of Leo XII. A Pope's funeral 
Political confidences Election of Pius IX. A service in the 
Sixtine Chapel An Ambassador's expenditure Chateau- 
briand returns to Paris 

TOWARDS the end of the following year came the downfall 
of Villele, for which Chateaubriand and his friends had so 
long been working. Since the death of Louis XVIIL 
Villele had occupied a most equivocal position, retaining 
his post only at the price of compliance with the Court, 
now entirely in the hands of clerical reactionaries, which 
had compelled him to lend the authority of his name to 
measures which his own judgment condemned. In the 
autumn of 1827 Charles X., believing his Ministers to be 
stronger in the country than in the Chambers, exercised 
his prerogative of dissolution, with the result that the 
Government was completely defeated, and the Opposition 
in the new Chamber outnumbered the partisans of the 
Court by more than three to one. 

Villele had now perforce to resign, and although the 



king was at first unwilling to choose his successor from 
the majority in the Chamber, and even thought for a time 
of violent resistance, more prudent counsels eventually 
prevailed ; and he, accordingly, sent for the Vicomte de 
Martignac, a member of the right centre, and the repre- 
sentative of a policy of moderate reform, and directed him 
to form a Ministry. Martignac urged that it would be 
advisable to buy off the hostility of Chateaubriand by 
including him in the new Cabinet ; and, much against 
the king's wish, offered him the Ministry of Public 

This post Chateaubriand was at first inclined to accept ; 
but his friends declared such a subordinate office to be 
beneath his dignity, and urged him to wait for a chance 
of obtaining the controlling voice in the Council, which, 
as Martignac's Ministry was generally regarded as only a 
stop-gap one, and unlikely to satisfy either party, would 
not be long in coming. In the meantime, as he had been 
far more attentive to fame than to fortune and was in 
embarrassed circumstances, they suggested that he should 
apply for the first vacant embassy. 

The king and Martignac, who felt that there could be 
no peace so long as this stormy petrel of politics remained 
in Paris, eagerly caught at the idea, and Vienna was offered 
him. Chateaubriand, however, had set his heart on the 
Vatican, where the salary was munificent, the society 
congenial, and the duties comparatively light ; and nothing 
less would tempt him to leave France. Unfortunately, the 
Due de Laval, who had filled that post for some years to 
his own and every one else's satisfaction, was by no means 
disposed to surrender it, least of all to a man of whose 
public conduct he so strongly disapproved ; and the 
Government dared not go so far as to recall him. Thus 



once again Madame Recamier found herself placed between 
the opposing interests of two of her friends. She succeeded, 
however, in pouring oil on the troubled waters ; and, for 
the sake of his " dear, ever dearest,*' the haughty head 
of the Montmorencies eventually consented to leave Rome, 
and betake himself to Vienna, the climate and inhabitants 
of which he cordially detested. 

The way was now cleared for Chateaubriand, and he, 
accordingly, prepared to set out for Italy. But before he 
did so his friends in the Chamber insisted that the 
Government should pay his debts. This request the new 
Ministers were afraid to refuse ; but, as the first sum 
given was insufficient, and Chateaubriand still lingered in 
Paris, the king, in order to relieve them from the presence 
of so dangerous a competitor, made up the deficiency from 
his own privy purse. 

This, it may be remarked, was not the only sum which 
the luckless monarch was called upon to disburse at this 
juncture, in order to buy off the hostility of Chateaubriand 
and his triumphant followers. At the beginning of his 
ministry in 1823, Villele had subsidised the Journal des 
Debats a journal which, as Lamartine ingenuously 
observes, " did not sell itself, but condescended to receive 
subsidies, which, without corrupting its opinions, remune- 
rated its zeal and its services." When, however, Chateau- 
briand was so ignominiously dismissed from office, the 
Debats immediately repudiated its subsidy, in order that 
it might be free to further the vengeance of its most 
brilliant contributor. The king and Martignac were 
fully alive to the importance of securing the support 
or, at any rate, the neutrality of so powerful an 
organ of public opinion ; and the former, accordingly, 
sent for Bertin, one of the proprietors of the news- 

24.1 Q 


paper, and begged him to be reconciled to the new 

" This Ministry ! " exclaimed this Napoleon of the 
Press, contemptuously. " It is I who made this Ministry. 
Let it conduct itself properly towards me, or else I may 
crush it as I did the last one." 

The king was naturally much incensed at this boastful 
speech, but he dissembled his anger ; and it was ultimately 
agreed that the Ministry might count on the support of 
the Debats provided that the subsidy was continued, and 
what Bertin called his " arrears " that is to say, the amount 
that he would have received but for the defection of his 
newspaper in 1824 were paid. There were not sufficient 
funds in the Ministerial chest to satisfy this demand, 
which amounted to no less a sum than half a million francs, 
so Charles had again to dip pretty freely into his privy 

The king afterwards asserted that a considerable portion 
of this so-called subsidy found its way into Chateaubriand's 
pockets ; but it is only fair to the latter to observe that 
this charge has never been corroborated, and, indeed, 
seems in the highest degree improbable. 

Chateaubriand remained at Rome until the following 
May, during which he kept up a regular correspondence 
with his friend at the Abbaye-au-Bois. His letters are 
extremely interesting, if only for the light that they 
throw upon the singularly complex character of the great 


"RoME, October II, 1828. 

" You ought to be satisfied. From every place in Italy 
at which I stopped I have written to you. I have 



traversed this beautiful country, so associated with you. 
This association consoled me, without taking away the 
sadness of other recollections, which I met with at every 
step. Once again I have looked upon the Adriatic, which 
I crossed more than twenty years ago, and in such a frame 
of mind. At Terni I stopped to console a poor dying 
woman. Rome finds me without any enthusiasm. As I 
feared, her monuments appear to me coarse after those of 
Athens. My memory for places, which is both astonish- 
ing and painful, will not allow me to forget a single stone. 
Alone and on foot I have traversed this great city of ruins, 
without any longing save that of leaving it, with no 
thought save that of returning once more to the Abbaye 
and the Rue d'Enfer. 

" I have seen no one except the Secretary of State. I 
am going to have an audience of the Pope. Yesterday 
evening, at sunset, in order to find some one to talk to, 
I sought out Guerin. 1 He was delighted to see me. We 
opened a window which commanded a view of Rome, and 
together admired the romantic horizon lit up by the last 
rays of the sun, which seems to me to be the only thing 
which is the same as it used to be. Either my eyes, or 
the things themselves, have changed, perhaps both. Poor 
Gurin, who detests Rome, was so delighted to find that 
I sympathised with his feelings, that he almost cried. 
Now you have my exact history. 

" Madame de Chateaubriand is no better. Left to her- 
self in a great house, with not even a cat to say to her, 
* God bless you ! ' where she finds everything in this 
bachelor's establishment arranged in the most ridiculous 

1 Pierre Gue*rin, the historical painter, at that time director of the 
French Academy of Painting at Rome. Among his pupils were Gericault, 
Delacroix, and Ary Scheffer. 



manner (boudoirs in the English style in a Roman 
palace !), she bewails the day when she decided to come 
here. Perhaps she will take more kindly to her new 
situations when she begins to receive visitors. I do not 
doubt that she will have a real success ; but her health 
will always be an obstacle to a society life. Now you 
have the whole truth. 

" For the rest, I have been most cordially welcomed by 
all the authorities on the journey at Bologna, Ancona, 
and Loretto. They quite understood that I was not an 
ordinary man, but scarcely knew the reason why. Was 
he a friend ? Was he an enemy ? In Egypt, the politicians 
and the educated people took me for one of Bonaparte's 
great generals, disguised as a savant. 

" The end of all this is that you must come immediately 
to my relief, or I shall very soon come back to you. I 
have not received a single word from you, save a line at 
Lausanne nothing at Milan ; nothing at Rome. The 
post arrives this morning. Will there be anything for 
me ? " 


" October 14, 1828. 

" Still no letter from you by yesterday's courier. Can 
it be possible that you have not written to me ? In that 
case you are carrying your resentment too far. Can any 
accident have happened to your letters ? I will not repeat 
to you what I have already said in all of mine. From 
them, you will understand the state of my mind and heart. 
Come quickly, or find means to recall me speedily. 

" I have seen the Pope ! He is the handsomest prince 
and the most venerable priest in the world. We had a 
long conversation. He is full of nobility and gentleness, 



and a thorough man of the world. I am enchanted with 
him. The Secretary of State is a very able man. All 
along the route I was overwhelmed with honours; and I 
have been remarkably well received here. . . . 

" As to society, I know nothing at all about it. I pay 
my visits by leaving cards. M. de Celles, 1 a very able 
diplomatist and a most charming man, is the only person 
I have seen as yet. Come then, I beg of you. Come 
quickly, and write. Madame de Chateaubriand is not 
at all well. I foresee that she is about to achieve that 
social success which you have predicted for her. His 
Holiness has spoken to me about her. I suppose 
that you are the only one in Paris who gives a thought 
to me." 


"November 5, 1828. 

" We had yesterday, so the secretaries say, a very 
delightful day. Not a member of the Corps Diplomatique 
was missing from San Carlo, and, what has never been 
seen before, the Pope himself came. I had Davidde for 
the singing, so, of course, the church was full. 

"In the evening we had a little ricevimento regarded 
as quite a French affair, because I have absolutely nothing 
in readiness for receiving people ; but all the great ladies, 
Roman, Russian, and English, came, and the cardinals and 
the Prince Royal of Prussia. I tried not to forget any 
artist, whether French or foreign ; and I also had invitations 
sent to the commercial people, which my predecessors 
have never done, and which seems to have been much 
appreciated by them. There was a little music. I had 
Davidde and Madame Boccabadati that is to say, the best 
1 The Netherlands Ambassador. 


talent that could be procured, for I have borne in mind 
what you said about poor singing. ... So I think my 
first reception has been a success ; and I hope it will be 
the last ; for you were not there. 

" What am I doing here ? I can, no doubt, go through 
with this life of outward display as well as any one else ; 
but is it the life for which I am most fitted ? Have I 
nothing better to do in this world ? If I have any ability, 
is it not a pity that it is not directed into some channel 
where it might be of greater service to my country ? or 
rather, why does not Time pension me off? I am only 
one of his old pensioners, who will soon cease to be a 
charge on his treasury." 


"November 15, 1828. 

" As soon as Madame Salvage arrived, I hastened with 
Madame de Chateaubriand to call upon her, in order to 
hear about you, and to see some one who has seen you. . . . 
The Torlonias have given their first ball. I met all the 
English to be found in the world there. I imagined 
myself again Ambassador in London. English women 
have the air of ballet-girls engaged to dance for the 
winter at Paris, Milan, Rome, and Naples ; and who 
return to London in the spring, after their engagement 
expires. The skippings of people on the ruins of the 
Capitol and the general manners of good society every- 
where, are very strange things. If only I had still the 
chance of taking refuge among the ruins of Rome ! But 
these ruins appeal to me no longer, and I only pass from 
ennui to ennui. 

" Shall I have a letter to-day ? I almost expect one. 
You see how faithful I am in writing to you. . . . When 



shall I be in my Infirmary 1 again ? and when shall I see 
you every day ? " 


" November 2Oth, 1828. 

" I have at last received a letter from you, dated the 
3rd of this month, by a courier who has been delayed. 
Imagine what happiness ! but, at the same time, what disap- 
pointment ! A special courier reached me the same day 
from the Foreign Office, bringing despatches of the loth ; 
and nothing from you ! Remember that a courier now 
leaves every week from the Rue des Capucines, and that 
this courier does the journey in seven days. The worthy 
Henri Hildebrand will come to give you notice, and take 
your instructions. When you have only time to send by 
him these two lines, * I am well, and I love you,' that 
will satisfy me ; it being understood that you are not to 
neglect the ordinary post." 


"December 18, 1828. 

"... Alas ! almost another year has passed over my 
head. When shall I find rest by your side ? When shall 
I cease to waste upon the highways those days lent me to 
put to a better use ? When I was rich I squandered them 
recklessly ; I thought the treasure inexhaustible. Now, 
when I see how much it has diminished, and how little 
time there is left for me in which to love you, my heart is 
very heavy. 

" But are there not long years beyond the grave ? Had 
I but the philosophy of Cousin, I should describe to you 
that Heaven in which I shall await you, in which you 

1 His asylum for aged people at St. Genevieve. 


will meet me once more, full of grace, beauty, and youth. 
Poor and humble Christian that I am, I tremble before 
The Last Judgment of Michael Angelo. I know not where 
my future abode will be, but if it is to be where you are 
not, I shall be most miserable. 

" I have told you a hundred times of my projects, and 
of all my plans for the future the Rue d'Enfer near you ; 
this is the only New Year's wish that I express on my 
own behalf. Ruins, years, health, loss of every illusion- 
all say to me, ' Go away ; retire ; have done with it 
all. . . .' 

" It was your wish that I should do something to mark 
my stay in Rome. It is done ; the tomb of Poussin will 
remain ; it will bear this inscription : * F. A. de Ch. a 
Nicolas Poussin, pour la gloire des arts et Vhonneur de la 
France? What is there for me to do here now ? 
Nothing ; especially after having subscribed the sum of 
one hundred ducats to the monument of the man you love 
the most after me Tasso." 


" January I, 1829. 

" 1829 ! I was awake, and thought sadly and tenderly 
of you, when my watch pointed to midnight. We ought 
to feel ourselves less heavily burdened as Time carries 
away our years ; but it is just the contrary ; that which 
he relieves us of is a weight with which he overwhelms us. 
May happiness and long life be yours. Never forget me, 
even when I am no more. I shall go to await your 
coming. Perhaps I shall have more patience in the other 
life than in this one, when I find three months without 
seeing you of immeasurable length. 

" I received this morning all the French people in 



riome. Madame Salvage dines, for the first time, at the 
Embassy. I like that woman, because she talks to me 
about you. I have also made a friend of Visconti, because 
he always asks me when you are coming. ... A happy 
New Year ! It will be happy, since in a few months I 
shall be with you." 


"January 3, 1829. 

" I renew my wishes for a happy New Year. May 
Heaven grant you health and a long life. Love me above 
all, and do not forget me when I shall be no more. I 
have good hope of that, for you have never forgotten 
M. de Montmorency and Madame de Stael. Your 
memory is as good as your heart. I told Madame 
Salvage yesterday that I knew no one in the world so 
beautiful or so good as you. 

" I spent an hour yesterday with the Pope. We talked 
of all manner of things, including the highest and most 
important matters. He is a most accomplished and en- 
lightened man, and a prince full of dignity and grace. 
To complete my political life, one thing only was needed 
relations with the Sovereign Pontiff ; that crowns my 

"Would you care to know how I pass my day, and 
exactly what I do ? I rise at half-past six ; I breakfast 
at half-past seven on a cup of chocolate, in Madame de 
Chateaubriand's room ; at eight, return to my study ; 
write to you or attend to business, when there is any 
the details for the French establishment and the poor 
French are quite numerous. At noon, I dress ; at one, 
o'clock I take a large cup of asses' milk, which does me 
infinite good ; afterwards, I walk for two hours in the 



Campagna with Hyacinth. 1 Occasionally I pay a formal 
visit, either before or after my walk. At four o'clock, I 
return home, and dress for dinner, which is at five o'clock. 
At half-past seven, I go to a party with Madame de 
Chateaubriand, or I receive a few friends at home. 
Between ten and eleven, I go to bed, and always think of 
you. The Romans are by this time so used to my 
* methodical ' life that I serve them for a timepiece, as 
I served your neighbours at the Abbaye. Now, is it not 
true that I am a very tiresome sort of person, and very 
different from the Due de Laval ? 2 Never have there 
been so many strangers in Rome as this year. Last 
Tuesday, the whole world seemed to be in my salon." 


"January 8, 1829. 

" I must tell you a little story of my last ' Tuesday/ 
There was an immense crowd at the Embassy. I was 
leaning against a marble table, bowing to the people who 
came and went. An English lady, whose name and face 
were quite strange to me, approached, looked me full in 
the face, and said, with that accent which you know so 
well, ' Monsieur de Chateaubriand, you are very unhappy ! ' 
Astonished at such a speech, and such a strange way of 
beginning a conversation, I inquired what she meant. She 
replied, ' I mean that I pity you/ So saying, she took the 
arm of another English lady, and disappeared in the crowd ; 
and I did not see her again the rest of the evening. Do 
not be alarmed. This odd stranger was neither young nor 
pretty. I was pleased with her, nevertheless, for those 

1 Hyacinth Pilorge, his private secretary. 
8 His predecessor at the Vatican. 


mysterious words, which were in harmony with my state of 
mind, and with what I have written to you. 

" No courier has arrived to-day. This frequently 
happens, now that the rivers and streams have overflowed. 
Bear this in mind, and do not be uneasy if my letters are 
delayed. Only, you will be fifteen days without receiving 
any, and then get five or six at once. On Saturday ! " 


"January 13, 1829. 

" . . . I have a little story to tell you. You know the 
poor ladies of St. Denis ; they have been to a great extent 
overlooked since the arrival of the great ladies of the 
Trinita de' Monti. Without objecting to the latter, I have 
ranged myself, along with Madame de Chateaubriand, on 
the side of the weak. For the last month, the ladies of 
St. Denis have been anxious to give a fe'te in honour of 
M. Vambassadeur and Madame rambassadrice ; it took 
place yesterday, at one o'clock. 

" Picture to yourself a theatre, arranged in a kind of 
sacristy, the stage facing the church ; for performers, a 
dozen little girls from eight to fourteen years old, playing 
Les Machabees. They had made their helmets and their 
robes themselves. They declaimed their French verses 
with a spirit and an Italian accent which was the funniest 
thing in the world, and stamped their feet vigorously in 
the more sensational scenes. Among them was a niece of 
Pius VII., a daughter of Thorwaldsen, and one of Chauvin, 
the painter. They were wonderfully pretty in their paper 
costumes. The one who played the part of the high 
priest, wore a long black beard, which was both a delight 
and a plague to her, as she had to keep on arranging it 

I with her little white thirteen-year-old hand. 


" For spectators, there were ourselves, a few mothers, 
the nuns, Madame Salvage, two or three abbes, and another 
score of little boarders, all in white, with veils. We had 
cakes and ices brought from the Embassy. Some one 
played the piano between the acts. Just imagine the 
delightful anticipations this fte must have aroused in the 
convent, and the recollections which will follow it. The 
finale consisted of a Vivat in sternum, sung by three nuns 
in the church. It is for you that I would like to live for 
ever. I must close. You must be tired of my letters and 
my insipidities. 

" I have seen in the papers an account of my dinner 
with Guerin, and the history of our monument to Poussin. 
Adieu until Thursday ! " 


" ROME, January 20, 1829. 

" My attention has been called to two articles in the 
papers one in the GLuotidicnne, the other in the Gazette. 
The first says that I have become a Jesuit ; the second 
insists that I am coming back to France and that I have 
written to that effect to make an i8th Brumaire. That 
makes me laugh, and proves, at least, that people concern 
themselves about me. You know that on principle I 
never reply to the papers. 

" Concerts are now all the fashion in Rome ; soon we 
shall have balls. When all these calamities are over, 
Lent will follow, and then Easter, which will bring me 
back to you. I live only in this hope ; it helps me to 
bear the burden of the days, very heavy indeed as far as 
I am concerned. 

"Above all things, take care of your health. Live 



long, long years, that there may be some one in the world 
to remember me." 


"Monday Evening, February 9, 1829. 

"The Pope is very ill. I am sending off a special 
courier to Lyons, to transmit a telegraphic despatch to the 
Government. These two lines will be posted at Lyons. 
I received this morning your letter of the 2yth." 


" February 10, 9 A.M. 

"The Pope has just expired. Is it not strange that 
Pius VII. should have died while I was Minister for 
Foreign Affairs, and that Leo XII. should die while I am 
Ambassador at Rome ? Now my position is again changed 
for the moment ; and my role becomes one of importance. 
The death of the Pontiff is an immense loss to moderate 
men. . . . 

" This evening an attach^ will leave with a long letter 
for you." 


"February 10, II P.M. 

"... What do you think they found the poor Pope 
doing last Thursday, before he was taken ill ? Writing 
his own epitaph ! When they tried to divert him from 
these gloomy thoughts, he said, ' No, no ; it will be over 
in a few days.' 

" Madame de Chateaubriand is quite ill, and has been 
bed for three days. All the Carnival pleasures are 
>ver, thank God. No more dinners, balls, &c. The 



English are leaving, and are going to dance at Naples and 

" I am going to have a multitude of couriers. I shall 
take advantage of them, and you must do the same. 

" I beg you will send for Bertin l and read him some 
portions of this letter. Recommend him to praise the 
Pope and Bernetti. 2 They could not have been more 
tolerant or more moderate." 


"February 17, 1829. 

" The Conclave, taking all things into consideration, 
cannot last more than three months, and probably will be 
much shorter. . . . Will it change all my political 
destiny ? 

" My mission, no doubt, increases my political impor- 
tance every day ; but will it not furnish a pretext for 
completing the Ministry, without ascertaining whether it 
is agreeable to me, and giving me any Minister they 
please sure, as they will be then, that I shall not give in 
my resignation during a Conclave, and that my duty will 
compel me to remain at my post, even though boiling with 
rage ? 3 But will they gain by that ? Shall I not tender 
my resignation the day after the election of the Pope ; and, 
after having rendered some important service in preventing 
the election of an Austrian or fanatical Pope, shall I not 
stand higher in public estimation ? 

" Madame de Chateaubriand is more stormy than ever 

1 The editor and proprietor of the Journal des Debats. 

8 Cardinal Bernetti, Secretary ol State to Leo XII. 

3 La Ferronnays, the Minister for Foreign Affairs in the Martignac 
Ministry, had just resigned. Chateaubriand, of course, hoped that the 
vacant portfolio would be offered to himself. 


To-day there is trouble with the servants, and that in the 
midst of my despatches, the death of the Pope, and Paris 
political intrigues. 

" I was present at the first funeral ceremony for the 
Pope, at St. Peter's. It was a strange mixture of in- 
decorum and grandeur. Singing, interspersed with the 
blows of the hammer that was nailing up the coffin of a 
Pope ; the light of torches, mingling with the light of the 
moon ; the coffin, finally, raised by a pulley, and suspended 
in the darkness, in order to place it above a door in the 
sarcophagus of Pius VII., whose ashes give place to those 
of Leo XII. Picture to yourself all this, and the ideas 
such a scene suggests. 

"... They have just brought me the poor Pope's cat. 
He is entirely grey, and as gentle as his old master." 


"February 23, 1829. 

" I am writing to tell you that the obsequies of the 
Pope were concluded yesterday. The paper pyramid and 
the four sconces were really beautiful, and reached to the 
cornice of the church. The last Dies Irae were admirable. 
Its composer is an unknown man, attached to the Pope's 
chapel. To-day we pass from sorrow to joy. We chant 
the Veni Creator for the opening of the Conclave, which 
takes place this evening ; then we shall go every evening 
to see whether the votes are burned, and whether the 
smoke issues from a certain stove : and on the day when 
there is no smoke, the Pope will be elected, and I shall 
start to join you which is at the bottom of all my plans. 

" Pay attention to what I am going to tell you. If by 
chance I am offered the portfolio of Foreign Affairs 
which I do not at all believe / shall not refuse it. I 


should go to Paris ; I should speak to the king, and 
arrange a Ministry of which I should not be one ; but, in 
order to attach my name to my work, I should make a 
proposition which would be agreeable to you. I think 
and you understand my feelings that it is necessary for 
my Ministerial honour, and to wipe away the stain that 
Villele put upon me, that the portfolio of Foreign Affairs 
should be given me for a time. It is the only honourable 
way in which I can return to the Administration. That 
done, I withdraw at once, to the great satisfaction of all 
candidates, and pass the rest of my days in peace with 


"March 31, 1829. 

" Victory at last ! After a sharp tussle, I have one of 
the Popes on my list Cardinal Castiglioni, under the 
name of Pius IX. the same cardinal whom I supported 
for the Papacy in 1823, when I was Minister, and the one 
who replied to me recently, and praised me so highly. 
Castiglioni is moderate, anti-Jesuit, favourable to the 
Ordinances, and entirely devoted to France. It is, in 
short, a complete triumph. 

" A few lines, that I am going to have dropped into the 
post at Lyons, tells all this to Bertin; 1 but send for him in 
case, by any chance, these lines should not reach him, for 
it is necessary to take every precaution. Please send also 
for the excellent Keratry on behalf of the Courrier. Give 
him the information. It will be acceptable to him, and 
useful to me. 

" I am certain that the Conclave, before separating, has 
ordered instructions to be sent to the Nuncio in Paris, 
1 Editor and proprietor of the Debate 


directing him to express to the king the satisfaction the 
Sacred College has felt at my conduct. What will the 
Gazette say ? What am I going to do now ? No matter ! 
I am going to see you ; that will be my reward and my 

" Yet after all I have never been so miserable and 
worried as I have been during the Conclave. Everything 
was, at first, against me. The French cardinals arrived 
hostile and resolved not to set foot in the Embassy ; I 
discovered intrigues and odious correspondence ; I con- 
sidered myself thoroughly beaten. Well ! the cardinals 
stayed with me ; they voted as I wished them to vote ; they 
chant my praises ; so you see what it is to be under the 
influence of your star." 


" Wednesday, April 15, 1829. 

" I am beginning this letter on the evening of Holy 
Wednesday, on my return from the Sixtine Chapel, where 
I have witnessed the Fenebrae and heard the Miserere 
chanted. I remembered that you had spoken to me of 
this beautiful ceremony, and, on that account, I was a 
hundred times the more moved. It is truly incomparable ; 
that light which dies away by degrees ; those shadows 
which gradually envelop the marvels of Michael Angelo ; 
all the cardinals on their knees ; the new Pope prostrated 
at the foot of the altar where, a little while before, I had 
seen his predecessor ; that glorious chant of suffering 
and of pity rising at intervals through the silence of the 
night ; the thought of a God dying on the cross to atone 
for the sins and infirmities of men ; Rome and all its 
memories under the vaults of the Vatican. Would that you 
could have been there ! Even the tapers, whose smothered 


light permits a white smoke to escape symbolical of 
a life suddenly extinguished appeal to me. What a 
beautiful place Rome is, wherein to forget and despise 
everything, and to die ! 

" Instead of that, the courier to-morrow will bring 
me letters, papers, anxieties. I shall have to talk to you 
about politics. When shall I have finished with my 
future, and have nothing more to do in the world than to 
love you, and devote to you my last days ? " 


"April 1 8, 1829. 

" The special courier, leaving the day before yesterday, 
the 1 6th, carried you a very melancholy letter. I was 
disheartened by yours. Yesterday, Good Friday, I thought 
that I was going to die, like your best friend. 1 You would 
have found, at least, this point of resemblance between us. 
To-day I am quite well : I cannot understand this state 
of health. Is it a warning to prepare myself ; and is death 
touching me with the point of his scythe ? You will find 
me greatly changed. I look a hundred years old ; and it 
is a century of love that I lay at your feet." 


"May 5, 1829. 

" . . . . I presented this morning my letters of credit to 
His Holiness. As soon as the courier, whom I have been 
told to expect, arrives, I shall leave matters to M. Bellocq, 2 
and set out for Paris. Perhaps before leaving Italy, I 
shall show Naples to Madame de Chateaubriand. The 
mischief all this is that the first year of an ambassador's 

1 Mathieu de Montmorency, who died on Good Friday 1826. 
J First Secretary of the French Embassy at Rome. 


establishment is ruinous ; and the entertainments I have 
been obliged to give on account of the Conclave, and the 
presence of the Grand Duchess [Helena of Russia] have 
ended by ruining me. I shall leave Rome to enter a 
hospital. Unfortunately, my whole edition is sold, my 
brain empty, and my health impaired ; but then I have 
not much farther to travel to reach the end, and there is 
no necessity to load too heavily an old vessel on the verge 
of being wrecked. 

" I no longer reckon upon your letters, as, most un- 
fortunately, you doubtless believe that I have left. I can 
hardly get away for another fortnight. All will be 
forgotten in the happiness of meeting you again, to part 

no more." 


"ROME, May 16, 1829. 

" This letter will leave Rome a few hours after I have 
quitted it, and will arrive a few hours before me in Paris. 
It closes this correspondence, which has not missed a single 
courier, and which must form an entire volume in your 
hands. Your own letters make but a very small packet. 
My heart misgave me when I tied them up yesterday, and 
noticed how little room they took up. 

" I am experiencing a mingling of joy and sadness, 
which I cannot express to you. For three or four months 
I disliked Rome ; now I find myself once more drawn 
towards these noble ruins, to this profound solitude, so 
peaceful, and yet, so full of interest and memories. Perhaps, 
also, the unlooked-for success which I have achieved here 
has attached me to the place. I arrived here the victim 
of prejudices which had been stirred up against me, and I 
have triumphed over them all. 



" To what am I returning in France ? Noise instead of 
silence, agitation in place of repose, unreasonableness, 
ambition, contests for place, and the struggles of vanity. 
The political system which I have adopted is such as will 
in all probability please no one ; and, moreover, I shall 
not even have a chance of putting it into execution. I 
would still undertake the responsibility of giving a great 
glory to France, as I contributed to obtain for her a great 
liberty ; but will they give me a free hand ? Will they 
say to me, ' Be master, dispose of all, at the peril of your 
head ' ? No ; they are far from being willing to say such 
a thing to me ; they would take any one in the world in 
preference to me ; they would only admit me, after having 
been refused by all the mediocrities in France ; and think 
they were conferring a favour on me by consigning me to 
an obscure corner of an obscure Ministry. 

" Dear friend, I am coming for you, to bring you back 
with me. Whether ambassador or not, it is there that I 
wish to die near you. I will at least have a great tomb in 
exchange for a petty life. However, I am going to see 
you. What happiness ! " 


"LYONS, May 24, 3.30 P.M. 

" On Thursday, at last ! My heart beats with joy at 
the thought of seeing you again in your little room. I 
have a letter for you from the Queen of Holland. 1 On 
Thursday ! I dare not believe in that word. Only eight 
days ago I saw the Sabina mountains, and now I behold 
those of the Bourbonnais. From the Tiber to the Rhone 
to the Rhone, whose waves you brightened with your 
childish smiles. On Thursday ! " 

1 Queen Hortense. 


Madame Recamier's pleasure at Chateaubriand's return His 
interview with the King Reading of Mo'ise at the Abbaye-au- 
Bois An awkward predicament Chateaubriand goes to the 
Pyrenees Formation of the Polignac Ministry Chateau- 
briand returns to Paris The King refuses to see him Death 
of Jacques Re"camier Madame Recamier goes to Dieppe 
Pere Lacordaire The revolution of July Madame Recamier 
returns to Paris Chateaubriand's position He is sent for 
by the Due and Duchesse d'Orlans His interview with 
Louis Philippe And with the Duchesse d'Orleans His 
disinterested conduct Benjamin Constant supports Louis 
Philippe His reward His anxiety to be elected to the 
Academy His proposal to Guizot His candidature His 
letter to Madame Recamier He is rejected by the Academy 
His death Mary Berry's description of his funeral 

MADAME RECAMIER'S pleasure at the return of her friend 
was as great as that of Chateaubriand himself. " M. de 
Chateaubriand arrived here on Thursday," she writes to 
her niece. " I have been happy in meeting him again 
happier, indeed, than I believed possible. . . . This morn- 
ing I am expecting M. de Chateaubriand, who has an audi- 
ence of the king, and is coming to give me a full account 
of his interview. I see a number of people M. Ville- 
main, whom I find very agreeable, M. de Sainte-Aulaire, 
&c. ; but it is M. de Chateaubriand's arrival that gives a 
new zest to my life, which seemed to be wearing out." 



The king received Chateaubriand very graciously ; but 
he asked him rather pointedly when he intended returning 
to Rome, and allowed him to see that whomsoever he 
might select to fill the vacant post of Foreign Minister it 
would certainly not be his representative at the Vatican. 

Chateaubriand was, naturally, much mortified at dis- 
covering how vain had been his hopes in that direction, 
for it was one of the peculiarities of the great writer that 
he never could understand the extent to which he was 
disliked and distrusted by both Louis XVIII. and Charles X. 
He was, however, in doubt as to which course it would be 
advisable for him to pursue, whether to return to Rome, 
or resign his post there and resume his place in the 
Chamber. At length he decided to go to the Pyrenees 
to recruit his health and await the development of events, 
now fast hastening to a crisis. 

Shortly before Chateaubriand went to Rome he had 
completed a tragedy called Moise, which he had been 
exceedingly anxious to see upon the stage. Bertin, of the 
Journal des Debats, and other members of his party, how- 
ever, had begged him for political reasons not to allow it 
to be produced, and he had yielded to their persuasions, 
though sorely against his will. Before he started for the 
Pyrenees, Madame Recamier, by way of compensation for 
his disappointment, arranged a reading of the play at the 
Abbaye-au-Bois. The reading was entrusted to the cele- 
brated actor Lafont, and a large and distinguished 
company, including Cousin, Villemain, Lamartine, 
Merimee, and many other well-known men of letters, 
assembled to listen to it. The entertainment, however, 
came very near ending in a fiasco. 

Lafont acquitted himself very creditably in the first act, 
but, unfortunately, he had not looked at the rest of the 


play, the handwriting of which left a good deal to be 
desired. The result was that he hesitated, stammered, 
made several provoking mistakes, and finally declared that 
the manuscript was illegible. Poor Madame Recamier 
was on thorns, fearing an outburst of anger on the part 
of her irascible friend ; but Chateaubriand, noticing her 
anxiety, by a great effort succeeded in mastering his 
indignation, and, throwing the blame on the manuscript, 
took it from Lafont and read it himself. 

In July came the news of the dismissal of Martignac 
and the formation of the Polignac Ministry. Prince de 
Polignac, an Ultramontane fanatic of the most dangerous 
type, who had suffered a long term of imprisonment for 
his share in Cadoudal's plot to kill Napoleon, and on his 
return to France in 1 8 14 had refused to swear to the Charter, 
because it granted religious liberty to non-Catholics, 
became Minister for Foreign Affairs ; Labourdonnaie, 
the champion of the reactionary Terrorists in 1816, 
Minister for the Interior ; and General de Bourmont, 
who had deserted to the English at Waterloo, Minister 
for War. 

Chateaubriand, quick to perceive the disastrous results 
which must inevitably follow the appointment of such 
Ministers, and forgetting his own grievances in his loyalty 
to the Crown, immediately returned to Paris and demanded 
an audience of the king, in order to warn him of the 
danger of thus wantonly provoking a conflict with the 
nation. The king, however, refused even to see him, 
whereupon Chateaubriand at once resigned his post at the 

In the spring of 1830 Madame Recamier lost her 
husband, who passed away at the age of eighty, gay and 
good-natured to the last. Since the death of his father- 



in-law and of old Simonard, which had taken place a few 
years before, he had lived with his niece, Madame 
Lenormant, and had dined every evening at the Abbaye- 
au-Bois. His mornings he spent in the Chaussee d'Antin, 
his old business quarter, where he had a small office in 
which he received his friends, whom, in spite of his 
reverses, he still found means to oblige. On being seized 
with his last illness, he had expressed a wish to be 
removed to the Abbaye-au-Bois, where, tended with 
affectionate care by his wife, he died on April 19. 

" It would be difficult to find," says Madame Lenormant, 
" in taste, temperament, mind, and character two persons 
more dissimilar than M. and Madame Recamier. They 
had but one quality in common that of good-nature ; 
and yet, in the singular tie which united them for thirty- 
seven years, there had never been the slightest interrup- 
tion of their friendly relations. In losing her husband, 
Madame R6camier felt that she had lost a second 
fether." i 

In July Madame Recamier transported the colony of 
the Abbaye-au-Bois to Dieppe. Here she made a new 
friend in Pere Lacordaire, soon to become famous as a 
preacher and orator. He was then a young man of 
twenty-eight, but already noted for his conversational 
powers, and Madame Recamier found him a charming 
companion. Chateaubriand joined her at the end of the 
month ; but he had not been at Dieppe more than a few 
hours, when he received news of the promulgation of the 
fatal Ordinances, issued the very day he had left Paris by the 
fanatical Polignac and his equally infatuated master. He 
at once set out on his return to the capital, and Madame 
Recamier, anxious for his safety and for that of her 
1 Souvenirs^ ii. 384. 


niece, who had remained in Paris, followed him the same 
day, accompanied by young Ampere and her maid. 

They reached the city on the 3Oth, but found to their 
astonishment that their carriage could not enter the town. 
They were, therefore, compelled to leave it at the end of 
the Faubourg St. Denis, and make their way on foot to 
the Abbaye-au-Bois, through streets in which barricades 
eight feet high had been erected. 

The following morning Madame Recamier received a 
note from Chateaubriand, who had been informed of her 
arrival by Madame Lenormant. 

7*/j3i, 1830. 

" I had just written to your niece to say that you would 
arrive at the most unexpected moment. You see how well I 
know you. I was carried yesterday in triumph through the 
streets : I do not dare to go out to-day. Come, therefore, 
when you are rested. Unfortunately, one cannot go 
about except on foot. I have matters of the utmost 
importance to talk about. I hope that I am going to 
play a part worthy of you and of myself, but which may 
perhaps cost me my life. You will understand what I 
have to endure from the terrible state of alarm which 
Madame de Chateaubriand is in. Sleep, and come to me 
when you are quite rested." 

Chateaubriand now found himself called upon to decide 
between the two principles which throughout his political 
career he had been vainly endeavouring to reconcile 
legitimacy and liberty. " My position is painful, but 
clear," he writes to the confidante of all his hopes and 
fears. " 1 will not betray either the king or the Charter, 
either legitimate power or liberty. I can say nothing, do 
nothing, but wait and weep for my country." He felt 



that he could not be true to the one without being false to 
the other. 

The temptation to a man so ambitious as was Chateau- 
briand to abandon the cause of the dynasty, whose repre- 
sentatives had treated him with so much ingratitude and 
contumely, must have been indeed a strong one. While 
the declaration which was to change the office of Lieutenant- 
Governor of the Kingdom into royalty was under discussion, 
Comte Anatole de Montesquieu, a great friend of the 
Due d'Orleans, called one morning at the Abbaye-au-Bois, 
where he found Chateaubriand alone with Madame 
Recamier. In the course of conversation he mentioned 
that the duke and duchess were anxious to make amends 
for the discourtesy with which the late king had treated 
Chateaubriand, and would be delighted to see him if he 
would go to the Palais Royal. 

The latter was not a little surprised at Montesquieu's 
advances, but he did not refuse, as he was glad of an 
opportunity for pleading the almost desperate cause of the 
little Due de Bordeaux, the legitimate heir to the throne, 
in whose favour Charles X. had abdicated. 

On reaching the palace, Chateaubriand was ushered into 
the presence of the duchess, who received him very 
cordially, and at once began to deplore the dangers which 
threatened France, and to hint at the great services which 
lay in his power to render to the nation at so critical a 

Presently Louis Philippe joined them, but, instead of 
discussing the situation of affairs, as Chateaubriand ex- 
pected him to do, proceeded to bewail the necessity which 
had summoned him from the congenial pursuits of a 
country life to take his place at the helm of the ship of 
State. He assured his visitor that nothing but a stern 



sense of duty had impelled him to meddle in politics, and 
that he asked nothing better than to be allowed to return 
to the peaceful existence which he had so reluctantly 

Chateaubriand, who was aware that the duke had in- 
herited both Philippe Egalite's ambition and his duplicity, 
was far from being deceived by this assumption of disin- 
terestedness. He soon contrived to steer the conversation 
round to the matter which had brought him to the Palais 
Royal that day, and strongly urged Louis Philippe to 
support the claims of the legitimate heir, and to content 
himself with the office of regent during the young king's 

While Chateaubriand was speaking he noticed that the 
duke seemed very ill at ease, and studiously avoided 
meeting his eye ; and he was, therefore, scarcely surprised 
when, in reply to his appeal, Louis Philippe answered that 
he feared events were too strong for him ; that the masses 
would not be so easily satisfied ; that they might rise and 
massacre the whole of the Royalists ; and that he must 
now beg his visitor to excuse him, as a deputation was 
waiting to see him. " I read upon his brow the desire to 
be king/' says Chateaubriand, and returned to Madame 
Rcamier, feeling that the cause of the Due de Bordeaux 
was now quite hopeless. 

Next day the Duchesse d'Orleans sent for Chateaubriand 
again, and used every persuasion to win him over to her 
husband's side. She reminded him of the sacrifices he 
had made on behalf of the Bourbons, and of the slights 
which had been put upon him by the late king and his 
predecessor. She dwelt upon the great influence he 
possessed over public opinion, and of the value Louis 
Philippe attached to his services. And finally gave him 


to understand that, if he wished for the portfolio for 
Foreign Affairs, her husband would willingly give it him, 
while if, on the other hand, he preferred to return to the 
Vatican, that post was equally at his disposal. 

Great as must have been the temptation to yield, 
especially now that it was obvious that no effort on his 
part would be likely to prevent the Chambers from offer- 
ing the crown to Louis Philippe, or the latter from accept- 
ing the offer, Chateaubriand was proof against it. He 
thanked the duchess for the high opinion which she 
expressed of him, and for the flattering proposals she had 
made him, but said that, as his writings proved, his whole 
life had been devoted to the cause of the fallen dynasty, 
and he must decline to stultify himself by countenancing 
a usurper, even one of the royal blood. 1 

Chateaubriand's refusal to accept office at Louis Philippe's 
hands does him all the more honour as he was at this 
time in serious pecuniary difficulties owing to his un- 
businesslike habits, and the lavish expenditure which he had 
incurred at Rome during the Conclave ; and is, therefore, 
in itself a sufficient refutation of the charges of opportunism 
which have been frequently brought against him. 

The political changes of that eventful year, which 
relegated Chateaubriand to private life, brought long 
deferred advancement to another of Madame Recamier's 
friends. Benjamin Constant had been one of the leaders 
of the Opposition in the Chamber of Deputies, and had 
written a series of exceedingly able pamphlets, denouncing 
the reactionary measures of Charles X.'s advisers. He 
was in the country whither he had gone to recruit his 
health, which v/as much impaired, when the revolution of 
July occurred ; but, at the urgent request of Lafayette, 

Memoires d* Outre Tombe, ix. 351 seq. 


returned at once to Paris, and used his influence on behalf 
of Louis Philippe's elevation to the throne. Honours 
and favours were showered upon him by the new Govern- 
ment. He was appointed President of the Legislative 
Committee of the State Council, with a considerable salary ; 
while the king made him a present of two hundred thousand 
francs from his privy purse to enable him to settle his 
most pressing debts, for his private affairs, like those of 
Chateaubriand and many other public men of his day, had 
been left to take care of themselves. 

Constant had, however, set his heart on being elected a 
member of the Academy, a position to which his great 
literary reputation gave Jiim an indisputable title. He, 
accordingly, urged Guizot, the Minister of the Interior, 
to expel a number of Royalist Academicians, as Vaublanc 
had done the Bonapartist members in 1816, by which 
means his immediate election would be, of course, assured. 
Guizot very properly declined to follow so dangerous a 
precedent ; and Constant, reduced to the chances of an 
ordinary election, offered himself in the following Novem- 
ber for the seat rendered vacant by the death of Segur, the 
historian. Just before the election took place, he wrote 
to Madame Rcamier to ask for her interest on his behalf. 

" I am going, madame, to ask you to kindly get M. de 
Chateaubriand to promise to be present at the Academy 
the day after to-morrow (Thursday). I have an excellent 
chance of being elected, and I am told that the only 
danger is that there may not be a sufficient number of my 
friends present. So I am appealing to your influence 
with M. de Chateaubriand, whose support is more 
valuable than I am able to explain, and his presence most 

Chateaubriand gave Constant his support, but the rest 



of the Royalist Academicians, hearing of the violent 
measures the latter had suggested to Guizot, were much 
incensed, with the result that the rival candidate, M. 
Viennet, was elected. 

Poor Constant's disappointment and disgust at his 
rejection in favour of a person whose claims were so 
manifestly inferior to his own greatly aggravated the 
coxiplaint from which he was suffering ; and he died three 
weeks later. High honours were paid to the memory of 
the deceased statesman. A civic wreath was laid upon 
the seat in the Chamber which he usually occupied, a 
mourning crape was attached to the flag above the 
President's chair in the Hall of Session, and nearly the 
entire Chamber attended the funeral. " There never was 
anything to equal the number of people who followed him 
to the grave yesterday," writes Mary Berry to one of her 
friends. " From nine o'clock till three there were eight cr 
nine processions at a time crossing the Tuileries Gardens, 
headed by tri-coloured flags, with his name and Liber te el 
Droit written upon them. The procession reached almost 
the whole length of the Boulevards ; nothing similar was 
ever seen at Paris, except at the death of General Foy." 

1 Miss Berry's "Journal and Correspondence," iii. 409. 


Retirement of Madame Re*camier's friends from public life 
Consequent change in her own life Her sympathy for sincere 
political convictions The Abbaye-au-Bois gradually becomes 
a literary resort Royalist rising in La Vendee, instigated by 
the Duchesse de Berri Chateaubriand and other Legitimist 
leaders are arrested But are soon released Outbreak of 
cholera in Paris Madame Recamier's peculiar dread of this 
disease She goes to Switzerland with Madame Salvage 
Visit to Queen Hortense at Arenenberg Hortense's adven- 
tures in Italy The Chateau d'Arenenberg Its Napoleonic 
treasures Alexandre Dumas pere His impression of Madame 
Re"camier Queen Hortense's musical talents Memories of 
Malmaison Chateaubriand's visit to the chateau Louis 
Napoleon His character and pursuits Madame Recamier 
and Chateaubriand visit the grave of Madame de Stael 
Arrest of the Duchesse de Berri Chateaubriand's pamphlet 
in her defence Announcement of her secret marriage to 
Count Palli Her release Chateaubriand's journey to Prague 
on her behalf And to Venice His letters to Madame 
Recamier from Venice 

THE fall of the elder branch of the Bourbons condemned 
to private life not only Chateaubriand, but the Due de Laval, 
the La Rochefoucaulds, and indeed the greater number of 
Madame Rdcamier's intimate friends. With it in con- 
sequence begins a new era in her own life. During the 
past sixteen years her salon had been, to a great extent, 
regarded as a Royalist stronghold, more from the accidental 



circumstance that most of her friends happened to belong 
to that party than from any predilection on her own part; 
for, as we have said, she made it a rule to ignore, as far 
as possible, all political distinctions. The men whose 
names are connected with the literature of constitutional 
France were then but little known, and, with one or two 
notable exceptions, such as Villemain and Jean Jacques 
Ampere, either too poor to mix in society, or too proud to 
frequent a salon so much affected by the chief supporters 
of the Government, lest by doing so they should fall under 
the suspicion of wishing to truckle to the party in power. 
Now, however, the positions were reversed : the Jeune- 
France party basked in the sunshine of prosperity, and 
men, like Carrel, Cousin, Guizot, Mignet, Thierry, and 
Remusat, were only too pleased to avail themselves of the 
hospitality of so charming a hostess. 

At first, the elder habitues of the Abbaye-au-Bois, 
differing so widely as they did from the new-comers in 
politics, and smarting under their recent defeat, were 
inclined to resent their presence, and treated them with 
considerable hauteur. But Madame Recamier, who always 
had the highest respect for all sincere convictions, more 
than atoned for this by the warmth of her welcome, and 
allowed her Royalist friends to see that, though she might 
regret the events which had driven them from power, she 
was far from approving of their unceasing efforts to oppose 
the national tendencies and cold-shoulder the national 
leaders. One day, Madame Mohl tells us, the Due de 
Laval was recapitulating what the revolution of 1830 had 
cost the country. 

" Yes," he said. " France has spent all this to get rid 
of the nobility." 

"And France," replied Madame R6camier, with a 


smile, " does not think she has paid too dearly for 


During the first three or four years after the July 
Revolution politics were the absorbing topic of conversa- 
tion at the Abbaye, and party feeling ran so high that 
Madame Rcamier had not infrequently to intervene a 
task which she invariably performed with marvellous tact 
to prevent things being said that might wound the 
feelings of some of her guests. Gradually, however, 
literature acquired more prominence, and after 1834, when 
Chateaubriand had finally retired from public life, the 
Abbaye-au-Bois became the centre of the most brilliant 
literary society in Paris. 

In the spring of 1832 the Duchesse de Berri, who had 
followed the rest of the royal family into exile, landed at 
Marseilles, and made her way into the ever loyal district 
of La Vendee, where a rising took place in her son's 
favour. It was easily suppressed, and the Government 
caused Chateaubriand and three other Legitimist leaders 
Fitz- James, Hyde de Neuville, and Berryer to be arrested, 
on suspicion of having instigated the insurrection. There 
was, however, no evidence against them, and they were 
almost immediately released. 

At the end of March the cholera, which had ravaged 
both England and Germany during the previous year, 
broke out with fearful virulence in Paris. Within a week 
the mortality reached five hundred per diem, and the 
cases to four times that number ; and in eighteen days 
no less than seven thousand persons had succumbed to the 
disease. Casimir-Prier, the President of the Council of 
Ministers, Cuvier, and many other well-known persons 
were among the victims. 

By a presentiment which, as we shall see, was only too 

273 i 


well founded, Madame Recamier, as a rule lavish in her 
care of people attacked by contagious disease, entertained 
an ungovernable and almost superstitious dread of cholera ; 
and, as the Faubourg St. Germain, and the Rue de Sevres 
in particular, was one of the quarters most affected by the 
epidemic, she quitted the Abbaye-au-Bois, and took refuge 
with her friend Madame Salvage in the Rue de la Paix. 
This part of the city was suffering but little from the 
scourge, which was confined chiefly to the left bank of the 

In August she and Madame Salvage set out for Switzer- 
land to join Chateaubriand, who was already wandering 
in the mountains. While there she received a pressing 
invitation from Queen Hortense to visit her at her summer 
residence, the Chateau d'Arenenberg, on the shores of 
Lake Constance. 

Since their last meeting in Rome Hortense had gone 
through many trying adventures, and had lost her eldest 
son, Napoleon. The Revolution of 1 830, which dethroned 
the Bourbons, had excited insurrectionary movements in 
several countries and among them Romagna, where a 
rising took place against the authority of the Pope. Both 
the young princes, in spite of the efforts of their relatives, 
had joined the insurgents, in whose ranks their presence 
had aroused much enthusiasm. An Austrian army, how- 
ever, entered the Papal territory, and speedily suppressed 
the revolt. Poor Hortense, who had been following her 
sons in order to rescue them from their danger, found that 
the elder had died of fever at Forli, and that the younger 
was ill with the same complaint near Ancona, and on the 
point of falling into the hands of the Austrians, who would 
certainly have shot him without compunction, as he had 
been specially exempted from the indemnity granted to 



the majority of the rebel leaders. The devoted mother 
nursed him back to health, and then carried him away, 
disguised as one of her servants, and, after many perils, 
succeeded in reaching French territory. The law banishing 
the Bonapartes, however, was still in force, and the Govern- 
ment of Louis Philippe would not allow them to remain 
in France. They, therefore, crossed over to England, 
where they stayed for some weeks, and then returned to 

Queen Hortense had bought this estate in 1817 ror 
sixty thousand francs. The chateau was a large, old- 
fashioned house, perched upon a hill, and commanding a 
superb view of Lake Constance, the Rhine, and the sur- 
rounding country. The queen had greatly improved the 
property, which had been much neglected, enlarging the 
house and laying out flower-gardens and terraces ; while a 
carriage-way from the high road to the chateau had been 
made under the direction of Prince Louis, and carried over 
a bridge, which he had designed after his engineering 
studies at Thun. 

The chateau was a museum of Napoleonic relics and a 
gallery of family portraits. In the hall were several stands 
of arms, containing swords, lances, muskets, Arab spears, 
and Turkish scimitars, trophies of Napoleon's different 
wars. In the salon was Gros's magnificent picture 
Bonaparte at the Bridge of Lodi, Bosio's statue of 
Josephine, and Prud'hon's full-length portrait of her. An 
immense cabinet stood in one corner of the room, filled 
with different objects that had belonged to either Josephine 
or Napoleon ; a pocket-book, marked " J. and N.," in which 
was kept the private correspondence of the Emperor and 
Empress letters written by the former from Marengo, 
Austerlitz, Jena, and many another blood-stained field ; 


Charlemagne's famous talisman, presented to Napoleon by 
the citizens of Aix-la-Chapelle, and worn by him at 
Austerlitz and Wagram, just as the King of the Franks 
had worn it nine hundred years before ; the belt Bonaparte 
had worn at the Pyramids ; the wedding-ring he had 
placed on the finger of Madame de Beauharnais, and the 
portrait of the little King of Rome, painted by Marie 
Louise, the last earthly object on which the eagle eye of 
the great captain had rested. The library contained a 
portrait of Hortense's father, Alexandre de Beauharnais, a 
handsome, swarthy man, who perished on the scaffold during 
the Reign of Terror ; another, of the equally ill-fated 
Murat, King of Naples ; and a third canvas, on which 
was depicted the sombre visage of Louis, King of 

Among the guests whom Madame Recamier found at 
the chateau, on the evening of her arrival, was Alexandre 
Dumas, then a young man of thirty, but who had already 
forced the doors of the Theatre Fran^ais with his Henri III. 
et son Cour. He was staying at Constance, and had been 
invited to dinner by the ex-queen. 

The famous novelist has left us an interesting account 
of his evening at the chateau. 

" After dinner," he says, " we returned to the salon. 
Ten minutes later Madame Recamier was announced. 
She, also, was a queen of beauty and wit, and the Duchesse 
de St. Leu received her as a sister. I have heard many 
discussions about Madame Recamier's age. It is true that 
I only saw her at night, dressed in black, with her head 
and neck enveloped in a veil of the same colour, but, to 
judge by her youthful voice, her beautiful eyes, and her 
soft round hands, I should have said that she was twenty- 
five. And I was greatly astonished to hear these two 



women talking of the Directory and the Consulate as 
events they had witnessed." 

Queen Hortense had, as is well known, great musical 
talent, and composed many deservedly popular songs, one 
of which, " Partant pour la Syrie" her son Louis 
Napoleon, on becoming Emperor, made the national air 
of France. In the course of the evening one of her 
guests begged her to give them some music, a request with 
which she readily complied ; and, taking her place at the 
piano, sang several songs which she had recently composed. 
Presently Dumas asked her if she would sing him one 
which she had composed during the Empire, " Vous me 
quiftez four marcher a la gloire" observing that it had 
been his elder sister's favourite song. The queen replied 
that she remembered the air, but had forgotten the words. 
The novelist, however, said he recollected them perfectly, 
and proceeded to recite them. 

Vous me quittez pour marcher & la gloire, 
Mon triste coeur suivra partout vos pas ; 

Allez, volez au temple de memoire : 

Suivez 1'honneur, mais ne m'oubliez pas. 

A vos devoirs comme a 1'amour fidele, 

Cherchez la gloire, evitez le trepas : 
Dans les combats, ou 1'honneur vous appelle, 

Distinguez-vous, mais ne m'oubliez pas. 

Que faire, helas ! dans mes peines eruelles ? 

Je crains la paix autant que les combats : 
Vous y verrez tant de beautes nouvelles, 

Vous leur plairez ! mais ne m'oubliez pas. 

Oui, vous plairez et vous vaincrez sans cesse ; 

Mars et 1'Amour suivront partout vos pas : 
De vos succes gardez la douce ivresse, 

Soyez heyreux, mais ne m'oubliez oas. 


While Dumas was reciting these verses, Hortense was 
heard to murmur, " My poor mother ! " and when he had 
finished, she burst into tears. On recovering her com- 
posure, she begged him to pardon her emotion, as the song 
recalled sad memories. 

" You know," said she, " that in 1808 the rumours about 
a divorce were beginning to spread. They had caused my 
mother terrible pain, and when the Emperor was on the 
point of starting for Wagram, she begged M. de Segur to 
commemorate his departure in some verses. He brought 
her the words you have just recited ; my mother gave 
them to me to set to music, and, the day before the 
Emperor left, I sang them to him. My poor mother ! 
I can see her now watching the face of her husband, in 
order to note the effect of the song which applied so well 
to their respective positions. 

" The Emperor listened to the end, and at length, when 
the last note of the piano had died away, he walked up to 
my mother. 

" ' You are the best creature that I know,' he said to 
her ; then, with a sigh, he kissed her forehead, and turned 
away into his study. 

" My mother burst into tears, for from that moment 
she felt that her fate was decided. You can understand 
now, M. Dumas, how many memories surround the song, 
and, in reciting it to me, you have touched the most 
sensitive chords of my heart." 

Dumas hastened to apologise, and begged the queen 
not to further distress herself by attempting to sing the 
song ; but the latter replied that, though it aroused sad 
memories, it also served to recall the great affection which 
the Emperor had always cherished for her mother ; and, 
turning to the piano, sang with great expression the verses 

z 7 8 


which had so moved Napoleon that evening at Malmaison, 
twenty-three years before. 

When, a few days later, Chateaubriand arrived at Con- 
stance, he was at once invited to dine at the chateau. 
Hortense received him most cordially, despite the pro- 
minent part he had taken in the overthrow of her family, 
showed him all her Napoleonic treasures, and read to him 
some extracts from her memoirs. The ex-queen talked 
a good deal about her preference for a life of retirement 
and her aversion to greatness ; and her guests were, there- 
fore, not a little surprised to find that Prince Louis was 
treated en souverain by his mother and the whole house- 
hold. The prince was a grave, studious, taciturn young 
man, very different from his generous and enthusiastic 
elder brother, Napoleon, whom Madame Rcamier had 
known in Rome. He lived in a kind of pavilion, standing 
apart from the rest of the chateau, full of weapons of 
all kinds, books, and topographical and strategical maps. 
Here he spent the greater part of his day, deep in study, 
never going out until late in the afternoon, when he rode 
or drove for a couple of hours. He was a superb horse- 
man, and an admirable shot, both with gun and rifle, and had 
won several prizes at the tir cantonal. His tastes were 
artistic, and before Madame Rcamier left, he sketched 
for her a view in sepia of Lake Constance as seen from the 
chateau, and inscribed his name upon it that name which in 
after years was to be attached to very different documents. 

On leaving Constance, Madame Rcamier and Chateau- 
briand went to Geneva, and while there made a pilgrimage 
together to the tomb of their common friend Madame 
de Stael. In his Mhnoires a" Outre 'Tomb Chateaubriand 
gives an account of this visit, written in his most polished 
style and with genuine pathos. 



" The chateau was closed," he says ; " they opened its 
doors to me ; I wandered in its deserted rooms. The 
companion of my pilgrimage recognised all the places, 
where she still seemed to see her friend, seated at her 
piano, coming in, or going out, or conversing on the 
terrace which borders the gallery. Madame Recamier 
visited the chamber which she had been wont to occupy ; 
days long gone by returned to her ; it was like a repetition 
of the scene which I have depicted in Ren&. ' I wandered 
through the echoing apartments, where I heard only the 
sound of my own footsteps. . . . Everywhere the rooms 
were empty, and the spider was spinning his web on the 
beds which had so long remained unoccupied. . . . How 
sweet, but how fleeting, are the moments that brothers and 
sisters spend in childhood's years, gathered together under 
the wing of their aged parents ! The family of man is 
but for a day ; the breath of God disperses it as a vapour. 
Scarcely does the son know the father, the father the son, 
the brother the sister, the sister the brother ! The oak 
sees its acorns springing up around it ; it is not thus with 
the children of men.' 

"I recalled to mind also what I have said in my 
Mtmoires of my last visit to Combourg, when on the 
point of starting for America. Two worlds, different, yet 
united by a secret sympathy, engrossed the thoughts of 
Madame Recamier and myself. Alas ! these isolated 
worlds, each of us bore them in our souls ; for where can 
two persons be found who have lived sufficiently long 
together not to have separate recollections ? From the 
chateau we entered the park. The early autumn had 
begun to tinge and detach the leaves ; the wind died away 
by degrees, and we could hear the sound of a stream 
which turned a mill. After threading the alleys, through 



which she had been wont to ramble with Madame de Stael, 
Madame Recamier wished to pay her respects to her 
friend's ashes. At some distance from the park is a 
coppice, interspersed with larger trees and encircled by a 
moss-grown and crumbling wall. This coppice resembles 
those thickets in the open country, which sportsmen call 
spinneys ; it is there that death has thrust his prey and 
imprisoned his victims. 

"A sepulchre had been built, in anticipation of their 
death, for M. Necker, Madame Necker, and Madame de 
Stael. When the last-named had been placed therein the 
door of the crypt was walled up. The child of Auguste 
de Stael was buried outside the tomb, and Auguste, who 
predeceased his child, rests beneath a stone at the feet of 
his parents. On the stone are graven the following words 
taken from the Scriptures : c Why seek ye the living 
among the dead ? ' I did not go into the wood : Madame 
Recamier alone obtained permission to enter. I remained 
sitting on a bench, before the wall of the enclosure, and, 
turning away from France, fixed my gaze alternately on 
the summit of Mont Blanc and on the Lake of Geneva. 
Golden clouds covered the horizon behind the sombre 
line of the Jura. One might have compared them to a 
glory extended over a long coffin. I perceived, on the 
other side of the lake, Lord Byron's villa, the top of which 
reflected the rays of the setting sun. Rousseau was no 
longer there to admire the scene, and Voltaire, also departed, 
had never cared for it. At the foot of the tomb of 
Madame de Stael how many illustrious persons, who once 
frequented the same shore, but are now departed, returned 
to my memory. They seemed to come seeking the shade 
of their companion and fly with her to heaven, her convoy 
through the night. At that moment Madame R&camier, 



pale and in tears, emerged from the funereal grove, as if 
she herself were but a shade. If I have felt, at once, both 
the vanity and the truth of fame and of life, and also what 
it is to be truly beloved, it was at the entrance of that silent 
wood, obscure and unknown, where sleeps she who had 
such eclat, glory, and renown." 1 

After her visit to Coppet, Madame Recamier returned 
to Paris, leaving Chateaubriand with his wife at Geneva. 
That autumn her niece's husband, Charles Lenormant, was 
appointed by Guizot Assistant-Keeper of Medals at the 
Bibliotheque Royale, an appointment which necessitated his 
removing from the neighbourhood of the Abbaye-au- 
Bois to the rooms assigned to the holder of that post in 
the library buildings. This change separated Madame 
Recamier from her niece, who had been in the habit of 
dining every day with her husband at the Abbaye ; but, as a 
sort of compensation, they, henceforth, generally spent the 
summer months together, either at some country house, 
taken by Madame R6camier, in the neighbourhood of 
Paris, or on a small estate in Normandy, which belonged 
to Charles Lenormant. 

In October came the news of the arrest of the Duchesse 
de Berri, who was imprisoned by the Government in the 
Castle of Blaye. Chateaubriand, who was still in Geneva, 
returned at once to Paris, and published his Memoire sur 
la Captivite de Madame la Duchesse de Berri. This 
pamphlet, which was a violent attack on the Government, 
and concluded with the words " Madame, votre fits est won 
roi ! " cost its author a lawsuit ; but he was ably defended 
by the famous advocate Berry er, and acquitted. In the 
meanwhile the imprisoned duchess had given birth to a 
son, the fruit of a secret marriage with an Italian noble- 

1 Memoiret d' Out re Tom be, x. 261 seq. 


man, the son of the Marchese Lucchesi Palli. The 
announcement of this union forthwith deprived her of 
the sympathy of the majority of her supporters, and 
a few months later she was released by the Govern- 

As soon as she was at liberty she wrote to Chateaubriand, 
begging him to go to Prague and break the news of her 
marriage with Count Palli to Charles X. The ex-king 
and the whole of the royal family were furious at the 
mesalliance and its fatal consequences, and all Chateau- 
briand's endeavours to reconcile them to the duchess were 
futile. Scarcely had he returned to Paris, however, when 
the duchess again wrote to ask him to meet her at Venice, 
where she and her husband were living, and the chivalrous 
old man at once started for Italy, though he knew his 
journey was bound to be a fruitless one. During his 
absence he wrote to Madame Recamier with his usual 


"VENICE, September 10, 1833. 

" I wish so much that you were here. The sun, which 
I have not seen since leaving Paris, is just beginning to 
shine. I have rooms at the entrance of the Grand Canal, 
with the sea both at the horizon and under my window. 
I am dreadfully tired ; yet, I cannot help admiring the sad 
and beautiful spectacle of a city so charming and so 
forlorn. And then the twenty-six years that have glided 
by since I left Venice to embark at Trieste, on my way to 
Greece and Jerusalem ! Had I not made your acquaint- 
ance in this quarter of a century, I should say hard things 
about it. ... Yours with all the sweetness of the climate, 
so different from that of the Gauls." 



"VENICE, September 12, 1833. 

" I spent a very pleasant day yesterday, if there can be 
pleasant days without you. I paid a visit to the Ducal 
Palace, and saw those on the Grand Canal once more. 
What poor devils we are in regard to art after all this ! I 
have all sorts of plans in my head ; I am taking notes ; it 
is for this reason that I do not give you any particulars, 
not wishing to repeat myself. 

" . . . To day, I am going to continue my course of 
sight-seeing. I am impatient to behold the Assumption 
of Titian. One comes across his masterpieces here on 
every side. His colouring is so perfect, that, if one looks 
at one of his pictures and then at the sky, one can hardly 
tell one from the other. . . . 

" I am devoured by those creatures who have also stung 
you. Hyacinth is almost blind. 1 I lay at your feet the 
most beautiful morning in the world, whose light is 
streaming across the paper on which I am writing to you." 


"VENICE, September 15, 1833. 

"... I have written you often and quite long letters. 
I told you that the notes I am taking prevent me from 
entering into details. I run about everywhere. I go into 
society ; what do you say to that ? I pass my evenings in 
the company of ladies ; what do you say to that ? I wish 
to see everything, know everything. They treat me won- 
derfully well, tell me that I am quite young, and are amazed 
at my stories about my grey hairs. Imagine how proud I 
am, and how I believe in these compliments ! Vanity is so 

1 Hyacinth Pilorge, his private secretary. 



absurd ! My secret is that I did not wish to maintain my 
reserve here, when I heard of Lord Byron's. I had no desire 
to pass for the copy of the man of whom I was the 
original. 1 I have converted myself into the ambassador. 

" I have explored Venice in a different way from those 
who have preceded me. I have searched only for those 
things which travellers, who follow in one another's foot- 
steps, give no heed to. No one, for instance, speaks of 
the cemetery at Venice ; no one has marked the tombs of 
the Jews at Lido ; no one has studied the habits of the 
gondoliers, &c. You shall benefit by the result of these 
investigations. ... St. Francis's Day will see me once 
more with you." 

At the urgent request of the Duchesse de Berri, Chateau- 
briand undertook another journey to Prague to make one 
more attempt to bring about a reconciliation between the 
duchess and her relatives. But she had ruined her party ; 
and the austere Duchesse d'Angoulme was the only one 
of the royal family who had any pity for her. Chateau- 
briand returned to Paris at the end of October, reluctantly 
convinced that the cause to which he had devoted the 
greater part of his life was now irretrievably lost, 

1 Chateaubriand always maintained that Byron was indebted for the 
idea cf " Childe Harold " to his own Rene. He was deeply mortified 
that the poet had not in any way acknowledged his indebtedness, and 
looked upon himself as " a father whose son had disowned him as soon 
as he had made a name in the world." 



Termination of Chateaubriand's political career A politician 
rather than a statesman He becomes a martyr to ennui 
Madame Recamier's efforts to interest him His Memoires 
(F Outre Tombe Reading of the opening chapters at the 
Abbaye-au-Bois Great interest aroused by these readings 
Anxiety of people to be admitted Chateaubriand's financial 
embarrassments He disposes of his Memoires in return for a 
pension Madame Recamier visits the Due de Laval at 
Montigny Louis Napoleon's attempt at Strasburg He is 
brought to Paris for trial And is followed by Queen 
Hortense Madame Salvage at the Abbaye-au-Bois Madame 
Recamier goes to see Queen Hortense The ex-Queen's grief 
attheexileofherson Her death Illness of Madame Recamier 
Anxiety of Chateaubriand and Ballanche Baron Pasquier 
lends her his house Her recovery and return to the Abbaye 
Madame Recamier the originator of afternoon " at homes " 
Newcomers at the Abbaye The most brilliant literary 
coterie in Paris Madame Recamier's devotion to Chateau- 
briand Sainte-Beuve's tribute to her unselfishness Jean 
Jacques Ampere His affection for Madame Recamier The 
two Chateaubriands George Ticknor's account of them 
The Abbaye-au-Bois the last of the old salons Its charac- 
teristics Madame Recamier's marvellous tact in conducting 
the conversation Musical parties at the Abbaye Made- 
moiselle Rachel, the actress Her romantic career Her 
avarice and kindheartedness Anecdotes about her Her 
affection for Madame Recamier Caroline Murat comes to 
Paris Pension voted her by the Chambers Her death 

CHATEAUBRIAND'S return from his second journey to 
Prague marks the termination of his political career. As 



a statesman, he can hardly be called a success ; indeed, it 
is doubtful whether he has any real claim to the title 
at all. But, as a fighting politician, as a debater, and, 
above all, as a pamphleteer, he has had few superiors ; and 
in the troublous years between the restoration of the 
Bourbons and the July Monarchy he was, undoubtedly, 
the greatest force in French politics, equally dreaded by 
his enemies when in opposition and by his friends when 
in office. 

Henceforth Chateaubriand was seldom separated from 
Madame Rcamier for any long period, with the exception 
of his visit to England in 1843, and her thoughts were 
constantly employed in giving an interest to his life. 
This was no easy matter. The great writer had always 
been subject to ennui. It was now a malady. Madame 
Mohl tells us that she often heard him express a wish that 
it would settle in his leg so that he might cut it off, as he 
considered that contentment of mind would not be too 
dearly purchased by the loss of a limb. 

For some time past Chateaubriand had been writing 
his memoirs, with the intention that they should be pub- 
lished posthumously ; and one day Madame Rcamier 
suggested that she should invite a few of their most inti- 
mate friends to the Abbaye to hear the opening chapters 
of the book read. Chateaubriand, not unwilling to have 
a foretaste of the judgment of posterity, was pleased with 
the idea ; and, accordingly, invitations were sent to some 
half-dozen of his contemporaries, and as many more of 
the rising generation, from whose impressions he might b~ 
able to gauge the modern taste. 

The experiment was a great success. " The readings," 
writes one of those who were privileged to be present, 
" began at four o'clock in the afternoon and continued till 



dinner at six ; were resumed at eight and went on till 
half-past ten. Not only did attention never flag, but no 
one knew that he had listened between four and five 
hours. Though the whole has since been published in the 
Memoir es cT Outre Tombe, those who heard the first reading 
felt as if they saw but the dead body when they read it 
in print. M. Lenormant, who officiated, was a perfect 
reader. In some of the scenes, the tears that stole uncon- 
sciously down the cheeks of one or two of the audience 
(the younger portion) gave more satisfaction to the 
author than all the well-turned compliments of his old 
friends." * 

The readings continued about once a week for more 
than two years. Chateaubriand went on writing, and 
always read what he had written to Madame Recamier 
alone in the first instance. The audience rapidly in- 
creased, and Madame Recamier was soon hard put to find 
accommodation for all those who wished to be present. 
Moreover, it required great tact on her part to make ?, 
selection from the numerous applicants for admission, for 
the Memoires were largely political, and Chateaubriand 
had, at one time or another, offended each of the great 
parties. The Bonapartists regarded him as one of the 
principal agents in the downfall of the Empire ; the 
Liberals as an upholder of the ancien r&gime^ and persisted 
in identifying him with the other Royalist leaders, who 
themselves had never forgiven him for the violence of his 
attacks upon the Ministers of Charles X. It was, there- 
fore, necessary to invite only those whose sympathy with 
the author was sufficient to outweigh their party hostility, 
or whose literary tastes were stronger than their political 
sentiments ; but she triumphed over all difficulties, and 

1 Madame Mohl's Madame Recamier, p. 85. 


the readings became so much the fashion, that people who 
cared nothing for politics or literature, fine ladies, dandies, 
foreigners, whose knowledge of French was so scanty that 
they could not possibly have understood half of what was 
read, vied with one another for admittance. 

For some years Chateaubriand's affairs had been in a 
very unsatisfactory state. Nothing else, indeed, could well 
be expected in the case of a man who, without any private 
fortune, had the munificence of a grand-seigneur. Hand- 
some as had been his official salary while ambassador at 
Rome, it had been quite insufficient for his expenditure, 
and he had contracted large debts, which were still unpaid. 
On the fall of Charles X. he had very honourably re- 
signed the Ministerial pension to which he was entitled, 
and since then had been entirely dependent upon his pen. 
He complained bitterly to Madame Rcamier of his 
poverty, but, though her anxiety on his behalf cost his 
sympathetic friend many a sleepless night, she could not 
for some time discover any way of freeing him from his 

It happened, however, that the booksellers, hearing that 
the now famous memoirs were to be published at the 
author's death, had begun to make proposals to him. 
These were at first coldly received. No single bookseller 
could possibly afford to pay the high price demanded by 
Chateaubriand in ready money, for, as long as the author 
lived, the publisher would, of course, have no opportunity 
of reimbursing himself for his outlay. At length, how- 
ever, a plan suggested itself to Madame Rcamier, who 
communicated it to some of Chateaubriand's Royalist 
friends who were aware of his difficulties. She suggested 
that a number of people should be invited to enter into 
an agreement with one of the leading publishers to pay 

289 T 


Chateaubriand a pension for his life, part of it to go to 
Madame de Chateaubriand should she survive him. The 
publisher was to be the sole proprietor of all the memoirs 
written or to be written, and, after the author's death, he 
was to repay the subscribers out of the profits. This 
contract was entered into in 1837, probably the first time 
a man has sold his life in order to live upon it. 

Chateaubriand abhorred this transaction, and often 
referred to his fate as being worse than that of a galley- 
slave, inasmuch as he was sold both body and mind : 
indeed, so repugnant was the bargain to his pride that it 
is very doubtful whether he would ever have been brought 
to consent to it, had not the future comfort of his wife 
been at stake. The previous year he had published a 
translation of Milton, and this was followed by a life of 
Ranc, the founder of La Trappe. With the profits of 
these works and the' sale of his house in the Rue d'Enfer 
he paid his debts ; but he was compelled to make over to 
the Archbishop of Paris the asylum for old people which 
he and his wife had maintained for so many years. This 
was a great trial to them both. 

In the autumn of 1836 Madame Rcamier, with 
Ampere and Ballanche, went to visit her old friend the 
Due De Laval at his country-seat at Montigny, where 
he had lived in retirement since the July Revolution. This 
was the last time Madame Recamier saw the duke, who 
died a few months later, at the age of seventy. 

On her return to Paris at the end of October, she 
learned of Louis Napoleon's unsuccessful attempt at 
Strasburg. The captive prince was brought to Paris for 
trial, and was followed by his distracted mother. Queen 
Hortense, however, did not enter the city, fearing that 
her presence there might militate against her son, but 



stopped at Viry with her friend the Duchesse de Rag use, 
and sent her confidante Madame Salvage to the Abbaye- 
au-Bois to enlist its powerful interest on behalf of the 
unfortunate young pretender. Madame Rcamier, ever 
ready to hold out a helping hand to those in distress, and 
touched by Madame Salvage's devotion to her friend, 
insisted on her remaining at the Abbaye and occupying 
her own bedroom, and promised to exert all the interest 
she possessed in the prince's cause. This was not neces- 
sary, however, as, a few hours later, they were informed 
that the Government had decided not to bring their 
prisoner to trial, but to banish him to America. 

Next morning, Madame Recamier went to Viry to 
comfort the ex-queen, whom she found overwhelmed with 
grief. She had already learned that her son's life was to 
be spared ; but the idea of his banishment to America was 
a terrible blow, as she knew that she was suffering from an 
incurable disease, and that their parting must be a final 
one. Madame Recamier was much moved by her friend's 
sorrow and the great change in her appearance. She did 
all in her power to console her, but with little success, 
and when she left she felt that she would never see her 

A few days later, Queen Hortense, with Madame 
Salvage, returned to Arenenberg. The fatigue of the 
journey greatly aggravated her complaint ; and when they 
reached the chateau it became clear that her days were 
numbered. It is sad to reflect that thev were embittered 
by the thoughtlessness of the French Government, who 
neglected to inform the anxious mother that they had sent 
her son on a long voyage before landing him in America, 
and that this was the reason of her not receiving news 
from him. She was left in a state of cruel suspense until 



the end of the following March, when a letter reached her 
from Rio Janeiro, where the prince's ship had been 
detained for a fortnight owing to a terrible storm. He 
had not been permitted to land, and his only distraction 
consisted in reading Chateaubriand's works, a set of which 
happened to be on board. 

The amiable and accomplished Queen Hortense died 
on October 5, 1837. 

In the meantime, Madame Recamier's own health was 
beginning to cause her friends grave uneasiness. She 
suffered greatly from insomnia and a troublesome cough, 
which brought on a gradual wasting away ; and it was 
feared that her lungs were affected. The anxiety of 
Chateaubriand and Ballanche was pitiable to witness. 
" During the worst part of her illness," says Madame 
Mohl, " M. de Chateaubriand and M. Ballanche might 
be seen walking in the court of the Abbaye-au-Bois, on a 
cold winter day, watching the doctor as he came down 
from her apartment into the court. They did not venture 
to ring, lest she should find that they were anxious. M. 
de Chateaubriand's beautiful white silky hair, blown about 
by a cold wintry wind his physiognomy the very image 
of despair formed a striking picture." 

It was about this time that the following note must 
have been written : 

" I am bringing this note to your door. In order to 
sustain my courage, I tell myself that everybody about 
me is ill also. I was so terrified at not being admitted 
yesterday, that I thought you were leaving me. It is I 
remember it is I who am to go first." 

And again, a few days later : 

" Never speak of what is to become of me without you. 
I have not done so much evil in the sight of God that you 


should be called away before me. I notice with joy that 
I am ill, that I felt faint again yesterday, and that I do 
not gain strength. I shall bless God for this so long as 
you persist in not getting well. So my health is in your 
hands, remember that." 

At the beginning of December, Madame Rcamier's 
friend, Baron Pasquier, who had been appointed Chan- 
cellor of France, and had taken possession of his official 
residence at the Luxembourg, offered to lend her his 
house in the Rue d'Anjou, an offer which she gladly 
accepted. She remained there until the spring, when she 
returned to the Abbaye-au-Bois in a much more satis- 
factory state of health. The doctors had ordered her to 
the South ; but she could not bring herself to leave 
Chateaubriand, to whose happiness she had become so 
necessary that her shortest absences filled him with 
despair. Whenever she announced her intention of 
leaving Paris, poor Madame de Chateaubriand used to 
hasten to the Abbaye to ascertain the probable date of her 
return, and to implore her for the sake of the peace and 
quiet of the Chateaubriand manage not to remain away 
long. " But what will happen ? " she would ask. " What 
is to become of my husband ? What is he going to do 
if you stay away as long as you propose ? " 

Chateaubriand's delight was great on her return to the 
Abbaye. He came every day at half-past two, and read 
to her whatever work he happened to be engaged upon ; 
no one was admitted till four o'clock, when other friends 
began to drop in. Until after 1830 it had been the 
custom for people to call upon their intimate friends in 
the evening, but as Madame de Chateaubriand was a con- 
firmed invalid, and never went out at night, her husband, 
during the last eighteen years of her life, invariably spent 



his evenings at home with her. This, according to 
Madame Mohl, was the original cause of Madame 
Recamier receiving at four o'clock instead of after dinner. 
Her example was soon followed, and afternoon receptions 
became the fashion under the name of les quatre heures. 

Amongst the new-comers who found their way to the 
Rue de Sevres at this time, may be mentioned Alexis de 
Tocqueville, the success of whose great work, Democratic 
en Amerique, had made him the fashion, Frederic Ozanam, 
the critic, Louis de Lomnie, Charles Brifaut, Sainte- 
Beuve, and Madame Tastu. A great many women writers 
came to the Abbaye, but Madame Tastu was the only one 
who became really intimate there, for Chateaubriand dis- 
app'oved of women meddling with literature and had a 
pos tive horror of bas-bleus ; and Madame Recamier, of 
course, deferred to his wishes. He made, however, an 
exception in the case of Madame Tastu, whose kind heart 
and sound common sense probably appealed to him quite 
as much as her sentimental verses. 

Madame Rcamier's receptions at the Abbaye-au-Bois 
were now almost as celebrated as those in the Rue du 
Mont Blanc had been in former days, and strangers who 
saw her the centre of the most brilliant literary society in 
Paris, concluded that it was now her ambition to charm 
the poets and novelists of constitutional France, just as she 
had once charmed the soldiers and dandies of the Empire 
and the statesmen and diplomatists of the Restoration ; and 
envied her accordingly. But they were wrong. The pains 
which she took to gather round her all the intellectual 
aristocracy of Paris, and to keep it there, were neither for 
her own pleasures, though her tastes had always been 
literary, nor for the gratification of her own vanity, though 
she was not insensible to the homage so freely offered 


her, but for the benefit of the friend whose happiness 
had been for so many years the first consideration of her 

With advancing years Chateaubriand's health had 
become much impaired. He had long been a martyr to 
gout, and at times his attacks were so severe as to almost 
deprive him of the use of his limbs. In consequence he 
was becoming more and more depressed ; and to keep up 
his spirits was a task requiring constant and daily effort on 
the part of Madame Recamier. 

" Her whole existence," says Louis de Lom6nie, " was 
devoted to seeking the means to dhennuyer this Louis XIV. 
of literature, who was as ennuye as the great king 
himself." i 

In order to effect her purpose, she pressed into her 
service all the cleverest young men she could find. Did 
any one happen to praise Chateaubriand in a book or news- 
paper, advances were always made to him. Did she happen 
to observe that any chance visitor to the Abbaye had been 
able to interest the great writer, he was at once encouraged 
to call regularly and made a friend of. To the success 
of her heroic efforts Sainte-Beuve pays the following 
tribute : 

" Madame de Maintenon was never more ingenious in 
amusing Louis XIV. than was Madame Recamier in 
interesting Chateaubriand. * I have always observed/ says 
Boileau, on returning from Versailles, ' that, when the 
conversation does not turn on himself, the king immedi- 
ately gets tired, and either begins to yawn or goes away.' 
Every great poet, when he is growing old, is a little like 
Louis XIV. in this respect. Each day, Madame Recamier 
contrived a thousand pleasant things to interest and flatter 

1 Nouvelle Biographic GenerniCj x. 99 


him. She got together, from all quarters, friends for him 
new admirers. She chained us all to the feet of her 
rival with links of gold." 1 

In this beneficent mission Madame Rcamier was ably 
seconded by Jean Jacques Ampere, whose brilliant wit 
and entertaining conversation had made him one of the 
most popular figures in Parisian society. Ampere, although 
of a most affectionate nature, had never married, and after 
the death of his father in 1836 he was left alone in the 
world. It was on Madame Recamier, therefore who 
filled for him the place of the mother whom he had never 
known that he lavished all the wealth of affection which, 
under happier circumstances, might have been reserved for 
his own kindred. When in Paris he never allowed a day 
to pass without visiting the Abbaye, always prepared at 
her bidding to devote himself to the task of amusing 
Chateaubriand and of inducing his friends to do the same. 

Chateaubriand, in spite of his ill-health and low spirits, 
could still at times be an extremely agreeable companion- 
that is to say, to Madame R6camier and other intimate 
friends. To the world at large he was a very different 
person. The adulation of the public, who had insisted on 
setting him upon a pedestal and bowing down before him, 
had converted him, at first, perhaps, almost unconsciously, 
into that most objectionable product of modern culture 
a poseur. When there were no strangers present, and he 
was alone with people whom he liked and of whose good 
opinion he was secure, he would unbend, relate entertain- 
ing anecdotes of his travels and of the many celebrated 
people with whom he had been brought into contact in 
politics or diplomacy, joke and laugh like a schoolboy. 
But did a stranger enter the room, all was changed ; he 

1 Cauteries du Lundi, \. 107. 


would at once resume the mask of a great man and his icy 
stiffness of manner, as became one who had been Foreign 
Minister, ambassador, and the author of the most widely 
read theological treatise and the most famous political 
pamphlet of the century. George Ticknor in his auto- 
biography gives an interesting description of these two 
different Chateaubriands. 

May 28. (Ticknor meets Chateaubriand for the first 
time.) " He is too grave and serious, and gives a grave 
and serious turn to the conversation in which he engages ; 
and when the whole table laughed at Barante's wit, 
Chateaubriand did not even smile ; not, perhaps, because 
he did not enjoy the wit as much as the rest, but because 
laughing is too light for the enthusiasm which forms the 
basis of his character, and would certainly offend against 
the consistency we always require.*' l 

June 1 6. (Ticknor is now on very friendly terms with 
Chateaubriand.) " The evening I passed delightfully at 
Chateaubriand's, with a few of his friends most of whom 
were members of the House of Peers. He was in high 
spirits, excited, and even exaltt, and poured out a torrent 
of rich and varied eloquence, which made me think 
almost better of the language than I am accustomed to." 2 

Madame Rcamier's salon at the Abbaye-au-Bois was 
one of the last which kept alive the memory of the ancient 
order of things, the social habits for which old France was 
so justly celebrated one of the last of that long list of 
brilliant coteries, with their grace, their charm, and their 
wit, which, it has been well said, impressed their character 
upon the language itself, and made it in many respects 
what it is. People came there to see the mistress of the 
house, and to meet those whom they liked and were 

1 George Ticknor's "Life arid Letters," i. 137. Ibid. i. 140. 



accustomed to meet, not to eat and drink, and flirt, and 
exhibit the latest triumphs of modiste and milliner. In 
those days it was still possible to have the best society 
without vulgar display and lavish hospitality. Good 
manners and good conversation were sufficient attraction 
The mistress of one of these old salons was once asked by 
an English friend how she managed to keep out the bores. 
She laughed and replied, " Ok, il ny a pas de danger 
quand on n a pas deux cent mille francs de rente" The 
Abbaye-au-Bois, indeed, was, in reality, though not in 
name, a literary club, constituted, as the smaller French 
clubs usually are, for the purpose of conversation, with 
Madame Recamier as its president. 

And what a president she made ! " Talking little, 
listening much, judging with acuteness, presiding over 
conversation with admirable dexterity ; questioning every 
one with infallible accuracy on what he knew best ; 
discovering how to make all merit exhibit itself without 
offending any one ; having the consummate art of making 
every one pleased with himself, and, consequently, with 
her." Such is the account given of her by Granier de 
Cassagnac ; while Madame de Genlis declares that no one 
in the world had ever mastered the great art of listening 
so thoroughly as had Madame Recamier, a qualification 
the importance of which to any one who aspires to be the 
queen of a literary court can hardly be over-estimated. 

Certain customs were much observed at the Abbaye-au- 
Bois customs which, unfortunately for society, no longer 
obtain. For instance, every endeavour was used to make 
the conversation a general one, and tete-a-tetes, especially 
those carried on in a low voice, which find so much 
favour in a modern drawing-room, were considered the 
height of bad taste, and rigidly discouraged. If, we are 



told, any of the younger habitues took this liberty, they 
received a gentle reprimand in a real tete-a-tete when 
every one else had gone. 

" Sometimes," says Madame Mohl, " a chance visitor 
would come in ; occasionally, if a lady, she would sit 
down by Madame Recamier, and, in a low voice, tell her 
something extremely unworthy of so much mystery. 
Meantime the circular conversation was going on, and 
Madame Recamier could not attend to it. On one 
occasion of this sort, after the lady had gone, she com- 
plained of having lost the thread. Some one said of the 
whisperer, ' no doubt it was from timidity.' * When 
people are too timid to speak, they should be modest 
enough to listen,' was her answer which ought to be- 

come an axiom." l 

Another characteristic of the Abbaye was that Madame 
Recamier disapproved of desultory, as she did of private, 
conversation, and followed the tradition of the Hotel de 
Rambouillet in keeping seriously to one subject at a time, 
although there was a total absence of the affectation and 
pedantry which must have so often marred the discussions 
in the salon of the " divine Arth6nice." There were no 
Precieuses at the Abbaye-au-Bois for a nineteenth-century 
Moliere to turn into ridicule. Madame Recamier loved 
simplicity and detested exaggeration. 

The visitors, of whom there were usually from six to a 
dozen present, grouped themselves in a circle round 
Madame R6camier, who sat on one side of the fireplace 
and, so to speak, conducted the conversation. As a rule, 
two or three of the habitues would stand against the 
chimney-piece, and speak loud enough to be heard by all 
present The others would listen attentively, one of them, 
Madame Mohl's Madame Recamier, p. 99. 


perhaps, interposing now and again with some witty remark 
or pertinent question. " If,'* says one of her most regular 
visitors, " a mot was particularly happy, Madame Recamier 
would take it up and show it to the audience as a con- 
noisseur shows a picture." She generally spoke very little, 
however, and even if she knew an anecdote a propos of 
something, would call upon any one else who knew it also 
to relate it, though she herself was an admirable raconteuse. 
For the most part she would listen and smile intelligently, 
and from time to time throw in some observation to show 
that she understood the person who happened to be 

When a new visitor came in, Madame R6camier 
would, if he knew anything of the subject under dis- 
cussion, immediately question him, that the company 
might be aware of it ; otherwise he was expected to try 
and understand what the conversation was about. From 
long habit she knew what were the subjects on which each 
guest showed to most advantage, and on these topics 
she would start him. The rest was not, indeed, difficult, 
for the guest, usually a veteran causeur^ knew his forte 
even better than she did, and seized the thread that led 
to it. 

If she fancied that one of those present had any special 
knowledge of the subject and was too modest to speak, 
she would, with a pretty air of deference, appeal to him 
for his opinion, and thus encourage him to join in the 
conversation. She had, indeed, a wonderful faculty for 
drawing out the best that was in people's minds ; and 
some, who, before they came to frequent the Abbaye-au- 
Bois, had so little confidence in their conversational powers 
that they could only be prevailed upon to express their 
opinions in the presence of their most intimate friends, 



soon learned to speak freely and intelligibly in general 

In 1838 Madame Rcamier, who had after her first 
year at the Abbaye lived in the small apartment on the first 
floor, which Chateaubriand called "the cellule" took a 
larger salon on the same ttage, and received in it until her 
death. Here she gave musical parties once a week, to 
which she made a point of inviting any distinguished 
foreigners who happened to be in Paris. She did not, 
however, continue these parties for more than three or 
four years, preferring, when her sight began to fail, to 
confine herself to her own intimate circle of friends. 

It was about this time that the famous actress, 
Mademoiselle Rachel, first came to the Abbaye-au-Bois, 
and at once conceived a warm attachment for Madame 
Rcamier. Rachel had had a most romantic career, and 
was altogether an extraordinary character. The daughter 
of one Abraham Felix, a Jew pedlar from Alsace, her child- 
hood was passed in the direst poverty, and she and her 
elder sister were forced to seek a scanty subsistence by 
singing in the streets and cafes of Paris. Through the 
kindness of a famous singing-master named Choron, who 
gave them lessons free of charge, the girls were able to 
gain admission to the Conservatoire, where, however, 
Rachel soon deserted singing for elocution and acting. In 
1838 she made her first appearance at the Theatre 
Fran^ais, in the part of Camille in Les Horaces, and her 
remarkable gifts as a tragedienne being immediately 
recognised, she speedily became the rage. Her features 
were plain and her voice naturally harsh, but her facial 
expression was wonderful, and by constant practice she 
acquired such command over her voice as to be able to 
vary its tones with every shade of thought and emotion. 



Rachel was not the daughter of a Jew pedlar for 
nothing, and many amusing stories are told of her avarice 
and passion for " bargains." 

When she was at the height of her fame and popularity 
she noticed one day at a friend's house an old guitar. 
She asked the owner to give it her, which he did readily 
enough, for it was in such a dilapidated condition that it 
would have been dear at a five franc piece. A few days 
later it was the turn of one of those gilded youths who 
are always to be found in the train of popular actresses to 
notice the guitar, but this time it hung in a beautiful silk 
net, through the bright meshes of which its dark back was 
plainly visible, on the wall of an elegantly furnished 

" What in the world have you there ? " quoth the 

" That," said Rachel, in a sentimental tone, " is the 
faithful companion by whose aid I made a few sous when 
I was a poor little street-singer." 

Forthwith nothing would satisfy the infatuated youth 
but that Rachel should give him this precious souvenir of 
her early struggles, which, with much apparent reluctance, 
she finally consented to do in exchange for some magnifi- 
cent diamonds and rubies which adorned the window of a 
neighbouring jeweller, and which she had long coveted. 

The happy possessor of the historic guitar, of course, 
took it home, and exhibited it with pride to all his friends. 
Unfortunately, one day the original owner of the now 
famous instrument happened to call, and, on hearing the 
romantic story, could not contain his merriment, and the 
murder was out. The poor young man was furious at 
the trick played upon him, but Rachel only laughed at his 
credulity, and, needless to say, kept the jewellery. 



Whenever Rachel saw anything belonging to her friends 
which happened to take her fancy, she never had the 
smallest scruple about asking them to give it her requests 
which few of them had the moral courage to refuse, 
especially when they were made, as they often were, before 
a room full of people. That versatile writer, Arsene 
Houssaye, himself a sufferer from this form of her rapacity, 
is responsible for the following amusing story. 

One evening Rachel was at a dinner-party at the house 
of the Minister of the Interior, Comte Duchatel, and ex- 
pressed her admiration of a beautiful silver bowl, which, 
filled with choice flowers, adorned the centre of the table. 
M. Duchatel, thinking, or pretending to think, that it was 
the flowers that she admired, immediately lent forward, 
despoiled the bowl of its fragrant contents, and offered 
them to the young actress. But he was not to get off so 

" Oh, it was not the flowers, but the bowl I admired 
so much," exclaimed Rachel, with a demure smile. 

The unfortunate Minister, with the eyes of the whole 
table upon him, had no alternative but to beg her accept- 
ance of the bowl as well. 

" Monsieur le Comte," was the answer, " your roses 
and violets bring joy to my heart, but your centre-piece 
will be the glory and wonder of my dining-room." 

The poor Count had his revenge later in the evening. 
Rachel had arrived in a cab, and her host had offered her 
his brougham to take her home. When the carriage was 
announced, he accompanied her to the head of the staircase 

" Mademoiselle," he said, with a sarcastic smile, " I have 
been much honoured by your acceptance of my bowl, but 
you will let me have my brougham back, will you not ? 



In spite of her acquisitiveness, however, Rachel had a 
warm heart, and was ever ready to hold out a helping 
hand to struggling genius. On one occasion a young 
man in very poor circumstances, whom she knew to have 
talent, wrote a play and sent it to the Theatre Fran^ais, by 
which it was promptly rejected, probably without being 
read. Rachel, hearing of his disappointment, asked him 
to call upon her, and, when he did so, told him that 
she had a wealthy English friend who had a passion 
for collecting rejected manuscripts, and had commissioned 
her to purchase his if he would sell it, at the same time 
naming a liberal price. The offer was, of course, gratefully 
accepted by the unsuccessful playwright, and Rachel had 
the manuscript beautifully bound, and placed it in her 
private library. 

Rachel's popularity in society was immense, and no 
actress had ever before been so much sought after by 
fashionable hostesses. She soon, however, got tired of 
her successes in high life and, after a time, the salons of 
the Faubourg St. Germain knew her no more. But to 
Madame R6camier she was always faithful, and never 
undertook a new part without having given the first 
recital at the Abbaye-au-Bois. On one of these occasions 
an old lady, who was extremely anxious to hear the famous 
tragedienne recite, owing to some accident or other, did 
not arrive until the conclusion of the first act. Madame 
Recamier happening to speak of her friend's disappoint- 
ment to Rachel, the good-natured actress at once 
volunteered to begin over again, and did so, much to 
the old lady's surprise and delight. 

In the summer of 1838 Caroline Murat came to Paris 
to press her claims for compensation on the French 
Government. She had at last succeeded in obtaining 



permission from the Powers to reside in Italy, and was 
now living at Florence. She had certainly chosen her 
time well. The constitutional monarchy had replaced the 
statue of Napoleon on the top of the Vendome column, 
from which it had been removed by the restored 
Bourbons ; the Arc de Triomphe had just been com- 
pleted ; the Chambers were on the point of voting a large 
sum for the erection of a tomb for Napoleon beneath the 
gilded dome of the Invalides, and a demand was about 
to be addressed to England for the ashes of the great 

During her stay in Paris the ex-queen spent a good 
deal of her time at the Abbaye-au-Bois, where she had 
the opportunity of meeting several members of the Govern- 
ment, and of exercising her still considerable powers of 
fascination upon them. Possibly these meetings were not 
without their effect on the decision of the Chambers to 
confer a pension of one hundred thousand francs upon the 
" Comtesse de Lipona." 

Poor Madame Murat did not, however, profit much by 
this tardy liberality, as she died a few months after her 
return to Florence. 


Madame Re*camier goes to Ems Trial of Louis Napoleon 
for his attempt at Boulogne Madame Recamier visits him at 
the conciergerie His letter to her from Ham Disastrous 
floods at Lyons Madame Re*camier's soiree musieale at the 
Abbaye-au-Bois Her beauty in old age Ballanche elected 
to the Academy His gratitude to Madame Recamier 
Chateaubriand's visit to the Comte de Chambord in London 
His letters Madame Recamier goes to Auteuil Madame 
Guizot and Chateaubriand Madame Recamier's habits 
Chateaubriand's journey to Venice Blindness of Madame 
Recamier Accident to Chateaubriand Illness and death of 
Ballanche An offer of marriage from Chateaubriand The 
Revolution of February Chateaubriand's illness The June 
insurrection Death of Chateaubriand 

IN the summer of 1840 Madame Recamier was ordered 
by her doctors to Ems. She undertook the journey with 
great reluctance, for she knew > how necessary she had 
become to Chateaubriand and Ballanche, both of whom 
were growing infirm ; and it was only the hope that she 
might gain sufficient benefit from the waters to enable 
her to continue her self-imposed task of consoling their 
declining years that induced her to leave them for a few 
weeks. " Time steals from me every day an eye, an ear, 
a hand," writes Chateaubriand. " Were it not for you, 
beautiful and dear one, I should regret having lingered so 
long under the sun." 



On her return to Paris she found that the irrepressible 
Louis Napoleon was about to be tried by the Chamber of 
Peers for his ridiculous attempt at Boulogne. Although 
Madame Rcamier had not kept up any personal relations 
with the prince since her visit to Arenenberg in 1832, it 
was thought that she might have been made aware of his 
designs through their common friend Madame Salvage ; 
and she was, accordingly, summoned as a witness, and 
interrogated by her friend Baron Pasquier, the Chancellor. 
Her evidence, however, was of no importance. 

The trial lasted a week. The prince was eloquently 
defended 7 by Berryer, but was condemned to perpetual 
imprisonment in a fortress ; while his companions, among 
whom was old Comte de Montholon, who had shared the 
Emperor's exile at St. Helena, were sentenced to various 
terms of detention. 

Louis Napoleon preserved his imperturbability through- 
out the trial, and when the officers of the Court of Peers 
entered his cell, and read the decree which consigned him 
to a prison for the remainder of his days, bowed calmly, 
and answered, "At any rate, messieurs, I shall die in 

Alexandre Dumas describes Nogent Saint- Laurent as 
entering the prince's cell before the officials arrived. 

" You are condemned to perpetual imprisonment, mon- 
seigneur," he said. 

" How long does perpetuity last in France, M. Saint- 
Laurent ? " inquired the prince, with a quiet smile. 

Madame Rcamier, both for his dead mother's sake and 
his own, was much interested in Louis Napoleon's fate. 
Misfortune, especially when allied with courage, always 
strongly appealed to her sympathies, and there was 
certainly something of nobility in the fortitude with which 

* 307 


the young prince pursued the course he had marked out 
for himself in the face of, apparently, insurmountable 
obstacles. She accordingly solicited and obtained per- 
mission to visit him at the Conciergerie. 

The prince appeared much touched by her attention, 
and when she left escorted her as far as the sentinels 
would permit. Nor did he forget the visit he had 
received, for two years later he sent her from his prison 
at Ham his pamphlet, Fragments Historiques 1688 et 1830, 
as a mark of grateful remembrance. For this she wrote 
to thank him, and received in reply the following letter : 


" CITADEL OF HAM, June 9, 1842. 

" MADAME, It was extremely kind of you to take the 
trouble to acknowledge the pamphlet which I took the 
liberty of sending you. I have for a long time wished to 
thank you, madame, for the welcome visit which you so 
kindly paid me at the Conciergerie. I have remembered 
it with deep gratitude, and I am happy that this gives me 
the opportunity of expressing my grateful feelings. 

" 1 shall be greatly obliged, madame, if you will hand 
the enclosed letter to M. de Chateaubriand, whose 
benevolent interest has deeply touched me. You are so 
accustomed to make all those around you happy, that you 
will not be astonished at the pleasure I have experienced 
in receiving a proof of your sympathy, and in learning 
that you were disposed to pity my troubles. 
" Believe me, Madame, 

" Very respectfully yours, 
" Louis NAPOLEON R." 

The letter to Chateaubriand, who had also visited him 



at the Conciergerie^ was couched in the most flattering 
terms, and contained a request that he would give him 
the benefit of his advice with regard to a history of 
Charlemagne, which the prince proposed writing. 

Chateaubriand, it may be remarked, appears to have 
formed a very high opinion of Louis Napoleon's character 
and capabilities possibly he was not insensible to the 
deference with which the prince treated him and, in 
acknowledging the receipt of the latter's pamphlet, 
Reveries poli toques > we find him going so far as to declare 
that " if God, in his impenetrable designs, had rejected the 
race of St. Louis, if our country had to return to an 
election which she had not sanctioned, and if her manners 
did not render republican institutions impossible then, 
prince, there is no name which befits the glory of France 
better than yours." * 

Chateaubriand, in penning these lines, was only antici- 
pating by a few years the verdict of no inconsiderable 
number of his own party ; indeed, Louis Napoleon was 
just one of those men of whom it may be said, as Tacitus 
said of Galba, that they were universally considered as 
qualified to rule until they attempted to govern. 

When, in 1848, Louis Napoleon returned to Paris, as 
a member of the Chamber of Deputies, one of the first 
visits which he paid was to the Abbaye-au-Bois. It 
happened, however, to be just after Chateaubriand's death, 
and Madame Recamier was too unwell to receive any one ; 
and, so, she and the prince never met again. 

The winter of 1840-41 was marked by a terrible 
disaster the overflowing of the Rhone and Saone, which 
brought ruin and misery to numbers of unfortunate 

1 Jerrold's "Life of Napoleon III." i. 280; and Mimoircs d' Outre 
x. 268. 



people at Lyons. In Paris intense sympathy was felt for 
the sufferers, and special performances at the theatres and 
many private entertainments were given to swell the funds 
which were being opened for their benefit. Madame 
Recamier, full of pity for the misfortunes of her native 
city, organised a soiree musicale at the Abbaye-au-Bois. 
The price of admission was fixed at twenty francs, but so 
great was the desire to see this celebrated leader of society 
in her humble home, that as much as a hundred francs 
was given for a single ticket. Lady Byron, who was 
passing through Paris, gave this sum for one which she 
did not use, but she made it an excuse for calling on more 
than one occasion at the Abbaye, where Madame Recamier 
was much interested in the lady who had become so 
notorious through her connection with the ill-starred 

The soiree was an immense success, both from a charit- 
able and a social point of view. Rachel, Pauline Viardot- 
Garcia, Rubini, Lablache, and other famous artistes gave 
their services, and the rooms were filled to overflowing 
with all that was most distinguished in Parisian society. 
So great was the crowd that the grand salon, in which a 
stage had been erected for the artistes, could only be 
reached with great difficulty, and when the Turkish 
Ambassador, Reschid Pacha, arrived, a place had to be 
assigned him on the first step of the stage, as it was im- 
possible to find him any other seat. There he sat amidst 
a mass of lace and flowers, a striking and picturesque 
figure, with his long white beard and fine head, right at 
the feet of Rachel, who was just beginning her role of 
Esther, not yet performed at the theatre. At that 
moment, a stranger, who was asking the names of all the 
celebrities, inquired of a well-known wag that of the 



imposing-looking old gentleman on the stage steps. 
" Why, don't you see, it is Mordecai, of course?" was the 
reply. The entertainment realised no less than four 
thousand three hundred and ninety francs, a sum which 
could, of course, have been largely increased, had it been 
possible to find acccommodation for all those who wished 
to be present. 

Although on this occasion some of the most beautiful 
women in Paris were congregated in her salon, it was the 
general opinion that Madame Recamier eclipsed them all. 
Madame Recamier never really knew old age. Of 
course, as the years passed by, she lost the bloom of 
youth, and, moreover, acquired a slight stoop ; but she 
always retained the rare beauty of the smile which had 
won so many hearts, and the singular grace which dis- 
tinguished her every movement, and which was one of her 
greatest charms. She concealed her hair, which had turned 
grey in 1824 at Rome, under a cap, but otherwise did 
absolutely nothing to hide the effects of age. " She 
resigned herself gracefully to the first touch of Time," 
says Sainte-Beuve. "She understood that for one who 
had enjoyed such success as a beauty, the less pretension 
she made the greater chance she would have of seeming 
to remain so. A friend, who had not seen her for years, 
complimented her upon her looks. "Ah, my dear 
friend," she replied, " it is useless for me to deceive 
myself. From the moment I noticed that the little 
Savoyards in the street no longer turned to look at me, I 
knew that all was over." 1 It was no doubt this sincerity 
which contributed to prolong her charms far beyond the 
ordinary period. 

In the autumn of 1842 Ballanche, who had been an 

1 Cauteries du Lundi, i. 105. 


unsuccessful candidate for a seat in the Academy some 
years before, was elected to that august body. Madame 
Recamier and all the circle of the Abbaye-au-Bois were 
delighted at his success, but the philosopher himself 
seemed to regard his admission to the " immortal forty " 
with comparative indifference. He had little or nothing 
of vanite de rauteur^ and attached far more importance to 
the moral and philosophical influence he desired to exercise 
than to mere literary popularity. 

But indifferent as was Ballanche to rewards both 
pecuniary and honorary, he was, nevertheless, deeply 
grateful to Madame Recamier for the kindly interest she 
had always taken in his literary projects, and the encourage- 
ment she had always been so ready to extend to him. He 
regarded her as the providence of every moment of his 
life, and the inspiration under which all his best work had 
been accomplished. 

"Yes, you are the Antigone of my dreams," he writes. 
" Her destiny is not like yours, but the lofty soul, the 
generous heart, the genius of devotedness are the features 
of your character. I was only beginning Antigone when 
you appeared to me at Lyons, and God only knows how 
large a share you have in the portrait of that noble woman ! 
Antiquity is far from having furnished me with all 
the materials for it ; the ideal was revealed to me by you. 
I shall explain all these things one day ; I choose the 
world to know that so perfect a creature was not created 
by me." And again, after he had finished his great work, 
the Palingenesie Sociale^ he says : 

" If my name survives me, which appears more and 
more probable, I shall be called the Philosopher of the 
Abbaye-au-Bois, and my philosophy will be considered as 
inspired by you. Remember that it was only through 



Eurydice that Orpheus had any true mission to his 
fellow creatures ; and remember, too, that Eurydice was a 
marvellous vision. The dedication of the Palingenesie 
will explain all this to posterity. This thought is one of 
my joys. I believe that I am now entering on the last 
stage of my life ; this stage may be prolonged for some 
time, but I know what must be the end of it. I shall fall 
asleep in the bosom of a great hope, and full of confidence 
in the thought that your memory and mine will live the 
same life." x 

But if Ballanche was confident of the verdict of 
posterity, it was far otherwise with the greatest of all 
Madame Rccamier's friends. Chateaubriand was haunted 
by a strange morbid fear that his fame would not survive 
him, and this, combined with his feeble health and the 
undignified annoyances of poverty, made the task of 
soothing his declining years more difficult than ever ; 
and poor Madame de Chateaubriand found herself forced 
over and over again to appeal to Madame Recamier, 
and entreat her interference for the sake of peace and 

In 1843 the young Comte de Chambord, the legitimate 
heir to the French crown, wrote to Chateaubriand from 
London, the refuge of all vagabond kings and scheming 
pretenders, begging him to come to England and give 
him the benefit of his advice. The poor old man was 
now so crippled with gout and rheumatism that he could 
scarcely walk, and, besides, grudged every day which kept 
him from the Abbaye-au-Bois ; but he did not hesitate 
to comply. While in England he wrote to Madame 
Recamier as regularly as before, though his handwriting 
was now so illegible, that he was generally compelled to 

1 Ampere's Ballanche y p. 230. 


dictate to his private secretary, a necessity which caused 
him much annoyance : 

"I have been airing my melancholy in Kensington 
Gardens, where you promenaded as the most beautiful of 
Frenchwomen. I saw once more the trees under which 
Rene first appeared to me. Then I was young, youth 
was before me, and I could strive after the unknown 
thing I sought. Now I cannot take one step forward 
without reaching the end. Oh that I were at rest, my 
last thought being of you ! " 

And then, after he has seen the young prince, he sends 
her a note, which, brief as it is, deserves to be handed 
down as a beautiful example of that unreasoning loyalty 
which the cause of the Bourbons, like that of the 
Stewarts, so frequently evoked. 

" I have just received the recompense of my whole life. 
The young prince has deigned to speak to me, in the 
midst of a crowd of Frenchmen with all the enthusiasm of 
youth. If I could I would tell you all about it ; but, as it 
is, I can't help crying like a fool." 

In the following spring Madame Recamier took a 
furnished house at Auteuil, which possessed the twofold 
advantage of being in the country, and, yet, so near Paris, 
that Chateaubriand, Ballanche, and her other friends could 
drive out every day to see her. Here she had as her near 
neighbour Guizot, with whose family, and especially with 
his aged mother, she soon became on intimate terms. 

Madame Guizot, who was at this time nearly eighty, 
was the object of universal regard. She had been a very 
beautiful woman, but, after the death of her husband, 
who, although a Liberal, had been guillotined during the 
Reign of Terror, she cut off her long and beautiful hair, 
put on a small close fitting cap, which she never afterwards 



laid aside, and lived henceforth in strict retirement, 
devoting herself to works of piety and the education of 
her two sons. 

The old lady was a warm admirer of Chateaubriand's 
works, and expressed a wish to make the author's acquaint- 
ance. There was some little difficulty about this, as 
Guizot, being Louis Philippe's chief adviser, naturally 
stood in a somewhat delicate position towards such an 
avowed enemy of the Government as Chateaubriand : but, 
at length, it was got over by Madame Recamier arranging 
that the interview should take place in her own garden. 

The meeting was a very interesting one. Chateaubriand 
was at his best, and exerted himself to confirm the good 
impression his writings had made upon this venerable lady, 
whose happiness had been shipwrecked by the same storm 
that had driven him to earn his bread in a foreign land, 
but whose path had never crossed his until they were both 
so near the end of their earthly pilgrimage. They parted 
with mutual feelings of sympathy and esteem, and, a few 
days later, Chateaubriand sent the manuscript of the first 
part of his Memoires for Madame Lenormant to read 
to Madame Guizot. 

Madame Recamier passed the greater part of the 
summer at Auteuil, and in the autumn spent some time 
with her niece in Normandy. During the last years of 
her life, whenever Chateaubriand and Ballanche could be 
persuaded to spare her for a few days, she always made a 
point of spending them in the country ; and it was from 
these brief intervals of rest, far from the noise and turmoil 
of the great city, that she drew the strength to continue 
the life of self-sacrifice she had imposed on herself. 

Madame Recamier had always been very regular in her 
habits. She rose early, and, in accordance with a practice 


she had begun early in life at the suggestion of Mathieu 
de Montmorency, devoted an hour to the study of a 
portion of the Scriptures or of some religious work. 
Afterwards she had the newspapers and one or two of the 
latest books read to her ; for few women were more 
extensively acquainted with current literature. This 
occupied her until breakfast at twelve o'clock, after which 
she drove out to visit some of her poor people, or to call 
on her niece or some old acquaintance who was too infirm 
to come to her, returning to the Abbaye in time to receive 
Chateaubriand, who arrived every day punctually at half- 
past two. The two faithful friends had tea, and passed an 
hour together, and at four o'clock her other friends, of 
whom Ballanche was usually the first, were admitted. 
Everything was delightfully informal at the Abbaye : no 
visitor was ever announced, and people were at liberty to 
come and go as often as they pleased in the course of the 

In the spring of 1845 the Comte de Chambord, who 
was now living at Venice, again sent for Chateaubriand. 
Madame Recamier was very unwilling that he should 
undertake so long a journey in his feeble state of health 
his hands were so disabled that he could hardly hold his 
stick but the loyal old man could not bear to disappoint 
the youth whom he looked upon as his lawful king, and 
insisted upon going to Venice, whence he sadly writes that 
the inscription in the middle of the Grand Canal, recording 
the fact that Byron had been there, had already disappeared, 
and that the great poet was now as completely forgotten 
" as any poor fisherman of the lagoons." He evidently 
deduces from this that his own fame will prove as fleeting. 

Chateaubriand returned to Paris after an absence of 
three weeks. He bore the fatigue of the journey better 



than Madame Rcamier had dared to hope, but it was his 
last effort of loyalty. 

As far back as 1839 Madame Rcamier's eyes had 
caused some anxiety to her friends, and in 1844 she could 
no longer see to read. " Her unwillingness to trouble 
others with her infirmities," says Madame Lenormant, 
" led her, even when she became totally blind, to conceal 
the fact from her friends. Her hearing was remarkably 
acute, and, with an unequalled tact, she recognised instantly, 
by the first inflection of the voice, people who approached 
her. Her man-servant took care to arrange the furniture 
in her salon always in the same order, that she might have 
no difficulty in moving about ; and many people, who 
heard her speak of her ' poor eyes,' only imagined that 
her sight was not so good as formerly." 1 

She was now, of course, obliged to make use of other 
people's eyes in order to gratify her love for literature ; 
and her nephew Paul David read to her every evening. 
His elocution, however, left a good deal to be desired, and 
he saw that Madame Recamier was sensitive to his short- 
comings, in spite of her efforts not to appear to be so. He, 
therefore, secretly took lessons in reading, at the age of 
sixty-four, in order not to mar the pleasure he was able 
to afford her. 

In the winter of 1845-6 Madame Recamier' s friends 
persuaded her to consult Dr. Druot, a well-known oculist, 
and for some months she submitted to his treatment, 
but without deriving any permanent benefit. By the 
use of belladonna, however, her sight was often restored 
to her for a few hours, and in the following May 
she was thus able to see and admire Ary Scheffer's 
beautiful picture, St. Augustine and Monica, which the 

1 Souvenirs, ii. 538. 


painter sent to the Abbaye for her and Chateaubriand's 

Madame Rcamier had dreaded the loss of her sight less 
on her own account than on that of Chateaubriand, whose 
mental faculties were now beginning to fail, while an 
accident had reduced him to a helplessly crippled condition. 
In the summer of 1846, in stepping from his carnage, his 
foot slipped, and he fell, breaking his collar-bone. From 
that day he was no longer able to walk, and when he 
came to the Abbaye had to be carried by two servants 
from his carriage to the salon, where he was placed in an 
arm-chair, and wheeled to a corner of the fireplace. When 
this was done, Madame Rcamier was the only person 
present, and visitors, who came in after his " hour," found 
him comfortably settled ; but he was sometimes obliged 
to leave in the presence of strangers, and this, as he was 
extremely sensitive with regard to his infirmities, was 
always a most trying moment, although out of respect for 
his feelings no one appeared to notice when he was carried 
from the room. 

Sometimes, instead of receiving her friends in her own 
salon, Madame Rcamier would arrange to meet those 
who were most likely to be able to amuse Chateaubriand 
at the latter's house in the Rue du Bac. By this means 
the old man was spared the annoyance of strangers 
witnessing his helpless condition. 

During the spring of 1 847 Madame Rcamier under- 
went an operation upon her eyes. It was performed by 
an eminent specialist, and great hopes were entertained 
that it would prove successful, but circumstances com- 
bined to render it unavailing. In her anxiety to resume 
her former mode of life for the sake of Chateaubriand, 
who was now more than ever dependent upon her good 



offices, as he had lost his wife in the previous February, 
she neglected necessary precautions. She had, moreover, 
been strictly enjoined to avoid all kind of excitement, 
but, shortly after the operation, she was called to the 
death-bed of her faithful friend Ballanche. 

The immediate cause of the old philosopher's death was 
pleurisy, but there can be no doubt that his anxiety and 
terror at the prospect of the operation which the object of 
his affections was about to undergo had not a little to do 
with the fatal termination of his illness. He lodged 
opposite the Abbaye, but would not consent that Madame 
Rcamier should be sent for, as he knew how dangerous 
it would be for her to expose her eyes to the light. She 
learned from some of his friends, however, of his critical 
condition and, forgetting all her doctor's injunctions, at 
once went to his rooms, and remained with him until the 
end, thus losing in tears and agitation all hope of re- 
covering her sighL 

Ballanche was buried in the family vault of the 
R6camiers, where Madame R6camier herself intended to 
be laid, so that he might rest in death near her whom he 
had loved so tenderly in life ; and Alexis de Tocqueville, 
on behalf of the Academy, and M. de La Prade, repre- 
senting the town of Lyons, delivered addresses over the 

Madame Rcamier's grief at the loss of the friend 
whose whole life from the time of their first meeting at 
Lyons, in 1813, had been consecrated to her was very 
great ; but the necessity of devoting herself to Chateau- 
briand a task which was daily becoming more difficuJt 
absorbed all her faculties, and left her little leisure to 
indulge in melancholy reflections. 

Like Madame de Maintenon, she now found herself 



called upon to amuse a being who was no longer 
amusable. Chateaubriand's memory was now so much 
gone, that he had been known to ask for a friend who had 
been dead twenty years, while he had so completely lost 
the power of attention that he had given up reading. He 
knew that his faculties were leaving him, and, " like a poor 
proud man seeking to hide his poverty," as one of his 
contemporaries observes, hardly ever spoke, except to 
Madame Rcamier and one or two of his most intimate 
friends. Yet at times a gleam of his former self would 
flash up and surprise every one. " One day," says Madame 
Mohl, " a lady calling at the Abbaye made a speech in 
praise of Robespierre's virtues (we are not aware in England 
that a knot of democrats uphold Danton, Marat, and 
Robespierre as the first heroes of equality). M. de Cha- 
teaubriand, all at once aroused from his silence, broke out 
into a description of the deeds of these men, deeds he had 
witnessed. Never in his best days had he expressed more 
eloquent indignation. All were silent with awe. They 
felt as if a prophet raised from the dead had spoken." 1 

He still continued to come every day with unfailing 
regularity to the Abbaye ; indeed, he only seemed to live 
during the hours he spent with Madame Rcamier, and 
one day surprised her by entreating her to marry him. 

Madame Rcamier was much touched by his earnestness, 
but she was firm in her refusal. " Why should we 
marry ? " she said. " If living alone is painful to you, I 
am willing to come and live with you. The world, I am 
certain, will do justice to the purity of our friendship, and 
will sanction anything that will render my task, of making 
your old age happy, peaceful, and comfortable, more easy 
for me. If we were younger, I should not hesitate ; I 

1 Madame Mohl's Madame Recamier, p. 109. 


would gladly accept the right of devoting my life to you. 
But years and blindness have given me this right. Let 
us change nothing in so perfect an affection. " l 

Such was the reason she gave Chateaubriand for her 
refusal to bear his name, but it was not the true one, as 
she confided to a friend shortly afterwards. " If I had 
thought he would be happier," she said, " I would not 
have refused ; but the only cheerful moments he has in 
the day are when he comes to the Abbaye. I am con- 
vinced that if I lived with him, that slight excitement 
which gives a little variety to his life would be lost." In 
this decision she thought of Chateaubriand, not of herself. 

Towards the end of July, Madame Rcamier, whose 
nerves had been much shaken by Ballanche's death and 
her own unsuccessful operation, was persuaded to go to 
Maintenon on a visit to the Due and Duchesse de Noailles. 
Ampere was also of the party, and she took a mournful 
pleasure in assisting him in the preparation of his " Life 
of Ballanche." She remained, however, but a short time 
at Maintenon, as she could not bear to leave Chateaubriand 
for a day longer than was absolutely necessary. 

So great was her desire to recover her sight, in order 
that she might be of more service to her friend, that on 
her return to Paris she had the courage to submit to 
another operation. But this, like the first, was wholly 

The winter passed quietly away, without any indication 
of the momentous events which were pending, and in 
February came the third great revolution that she and 
Chateaubriand were to witness. The latter had by this 
time fallen into a sort of speechless stupor, and at times it 
almost seemed as if his intelligence was gone ; but he still 
1 Souvenirs, ii. 558. 

321 x 


continued to come to the Abbaye-au-Bois, " where," 
says Madame Mohl, " like an old oak struck by 
lightning, beautiful in its decay, he sat, seemed to listen 
to the conversation, smiled when one of his favourites 
entered; but in reality was indifferent to all/' 1 He 
roused himself sufficiently to make inquiries about the 
revolution of February, and when he was told that Louis 
Philippe's Government had been overthrown, he exclaimed, 
" Well done ! " and once more relapsed into silence. 2 

In May Chateaubriand was in such a weak state that he 
was unable to leave the house. Madame Recamier, there- 
fore, went every day to the Rue du Bac, at the same hour 
that he had been accustomed to come to the Abbaye, and 
a few either of her own or of Chateaubriand's friends 
generally joined her there. 

During the June insurrection few drivers would venture 
out, as the rioters seized on every vehicle they could find, 
and piled them up for barricades. Madame Recamier, 
however, remembered that it was possible to reach 
Chateaubriand's house by making a detour through some 
unfrequented back streets ; and, after some difficulty, she 
succeeded in persuading a cocker bolder than his fellows 
to take her this way, and, blind and nervous as she was, 
never missed a day in coming to the Rue du Bac. 

At the close of that month Chateaubriand was compelled 
to take to his bed, and the doctors declared that the end 
was only a question of days. Madame Recamier dreaded 
his dying in the night, when it might not be possible to 
summon her in time, and was, therefore, greatly relieved 
when Madame Mohl, who lived on an upper floor in the 
same house, offered her a room. 

1 Madame Mohl's Madame Recamier , p. 115. 

2 Souvenirs of Alexis de Tocqueville, p. 255. 



The scene at the deathbed of the great writer was 
inexpressibly pathetic. Madame Rcamier could not see 
him, neither could he speak to her, as he had lost the 
power of speech for some days. Whenever she, choked 
by her sobs, left the room, Chateaubriand followed her 
with his eyes, as if fearing that he should never see her 
again. At length, in the early morning of July 4, in the 
presence of his nephew, Comte Louis de Chateaubriand, 
the Abbe Deguerry, and Madame Recamier, he passed 
quietly away. 

Many years before, Chateaubriand had begged his fellow 
townsmen of St. Malo to reserve " un petit coin de terre " 
for his grave ; and here a simple granite cross marks the 
spot where the most eloquent of modern Frenchmen is 
sleeping his last long sleep beside the sea, the music of whose 
wild waves had so often lulled him to rest in infancy. 



Madame Recamier's grief at Chateaubriand's death Visit of 
Beranger to the Abbaye-au-Bois Publication of the Memoirts 
d'Qutre Tombe Return of the cholera Madame Recamier 
removes to the Bibliotheque Nationale She is attacked by 
cholera Her death The secret of her influence 

IN losing Chateaubriand, Madame Recamier felt as if the 
mainspring of her life was broken. While witnessing the 
physical and mental decline of the great genius, she had 
struggled with passionate tenderness against the terrible 
effect of years and ill-health upon him ; but the long 
conflict had exhausted her strength, and a strange pallor 
now began to overspread her face, which seemed to warn 
her friends that she would not long survive him. 

After a time she forced herself to resume her former 
habits, and her friends continued to come to the Abbaye- 
au-Bois. Of these Ampere was now the chief. After the 
death of Ballanche he had given up a projected tour in 
the East, in order to remain near his beloved friend, and 
exerted all his wonderful conversational powers to cheer 
and console her in her blindness and solitude. But alas ! 
no one, however gifted, could ever fill the place of the 
two friends whom death had taken from her. 

" Madame Recamier," says her niece, " often spoke of 
Ballanche and Chateaubriand together, always expressing 
herself as if they were only momentarily absent. At the 



hour when her two friends were accustomed to enter her 
salon I have seen her shudder if the door happened to 
open. Upon asking her the reason, she told me that at 
times she experienced a thought of them so vivid that it 
seemed like an apparition. The darkness which for her 
enveloped all objects must have favoured these effects of 
the imagination." l 

Shortly after Chateaubriand's death, Madame R6camier 
received a visit from the famous song-writer Branger. 
This was the first time that Branger had been to the 
Abbaye-au-Bois, although she had met him several times 
at Chateaubriand's house. He had been an intense admirer 
of the great author he shared his conviction that Byron 
had got the idea of his " Childe Harold " from Rent and 
his object in calling was to express his sympathy with 
Madame Rcamier in the irreparable loss she had sus- 
tained. Madame R6camier was much touched by this 
attention on the part of the kind-hearted little poet. 

The death of Chateaubriand, of course, left the pub- 
lishers free to issue his Mtmoires. They disposed of the 
serial rights to the proprietors of La Presse, and early in 
1 849 they began to appear in the columns of that journal. 
Their publication in this form had been strongly dis- 
approved of by the author, who had foreseen that the 
publicity of a daily newspaper would make many of the 
opinions expressed in the book seem unduly severe and 
create much ill-feeling. Madame Rcamier was very 
distressed at seeing how entirely her dead friend's wishes 
had been disregarded, more especially when it became 
evident that his fears in this respect had been but too well 
grounded ; but she was powerless to interfere. 

In March the cholera, from which she had fled in 1832, 
1 Souvenirs, ii. 563. 


made its reappearance in Paris. She was too old and too 
infirm to fly from it now ; but Madame Lenormant 
suggested that she should remove to the Bibliotheque 
Nationale, where she and her husband resided. This 
appeared to most of her friends a great mistake, for the 
Abbaye was in a far less crowded part of the town than 
the Bibliotheque; and they, accordingly, did what they 
could to persuade her to stay where she was, but without 

Here she remained for three weeks, and then announced 
her intention of returning to the Abbaye in the course of 
a few days. On May 7 Comte de Saint-Priest, who had 
been selected by the Academy to deliver the customary 
eulogium on their late colleague Ballanche, called to read 
her the draft of his address, in which she was, of course, 
much interested ; and on the following day she drove 
out as usual in the morning, received some friends in the 
afternoon, and dined with the Lenormants, Ampere, and 
Madame Salvage. On the 9th she seemed perfectly well 
in the early part of the day, and her great-niece, Juliette 
Lenormant, finished reading to her Madame de Motte- 
ville's Mtmoires. At four o'clock, however, as she was 
dressing for dinner she was suddenly taken ill. Doctors 
were at once summoned and pronounced the disease to be 
cholera. In her feeble state of health she had no strength 
to battle with the disease, and two days later she died, 
rejoicing in the midst of her agony that she was permitted 
to do so surrounded by those whom she loved. " We 
shall meet again ! " were her last words. 

" Cholera," says Madame Lenormant, " usually leaves 
frightful traces upon its victims, but by an exception, 
which I cannot help regarding as a last favour of Heaven, 
Madame Rcamier's features assumed in death a surprising 



beauty. Her expression was angelic and grave ; she 
looked like a beautiful statue ; there was no contraction, 
neither were there any wrinkles ; and never has the 
majesty of the last sleep been attended with so much 
grace and sweetness." l 

What was the secret of the wonderful fascination which 
Madame Recamier exercised over all who came under her 
influence a fascination which was as potent on the day 
of her death as it had been on her first appearance in 
society half a century earlier ? It is comparatively easy 
to account for it when she was in the heyday of her youth 
and beauty and the dispenser of almost boundless hospi- 
tality. But it is far more difficult to do so when youth 
had gone, and beauty had fled, and she had exchanged 
her splendid mansion in the Rue du Mont Blanc for a 
comfortless garret in the outbuildings of a convent. The 
secret, we think, is to be found in the possession in a 
pre-eminent degree of two qualities, by no means common 
in themselves, and still more rarely to be met with in 
conjunction with one another tact and sympathy. 

Madame Recamier's most intimate friends, her most 
ardent admirers, were politicians and statesmen, often 
rivals, sometimes enemies, yet, she understood all and did 
justice to all, not by pretending to sympathise with first 
one and then another, as most women similarly placed 
would have done, but by remaining absolutely impartial, 
and letting them clearly understand that she would be no 
party to their quarrels, however bitter those quarrels 
might be. " Your position," writes the Due de Laval to 
her, at the time of the diplomatic rivalry between Chateau- 
briand and Mathieu de Montmorency, "is one of the 

1 Souvenirs, ii. 572, 


most complicated, most singular, and most embarrassing 
in the whole of my experience ; but I am sure you will 
get out of the difficulty with admirable tact, that you will 
enjoy every one's confidence, that every one will be 
satisfied, and that no one will be disappointed." 

The duke was right. Madame Recamier never dis- 
appointed or deceived any one. In the midst of the most 
difficult situations, in the midst of friends who were as 
bitterly antagonistic to one another as men could well be, 
she maintained her kind, sympathetic, and conciliatory 
manner, acknowledging allegiance to no party, to no set 
of political principles, but making it her business to dis- 
cover some point of agreement between herself and each 
of her guests a point which, as Guizot remarks, fre- 
quently became a bond of sympathy which nothing had 
power to sever. 1 

And if Madame Recamier was resolute in her refusal to 
recognise political distinctions among her friends, she was 
equally consistent in ignoring social ones. Of middle- 
class origin herself, and married to a man whose con- 
nections were all of the upper bourgeoisie, her own 
charms and the levelling tendencies of the revolutionary 
era threw her into the very highest society. Some of her 
chosen associates were men of fashion, some politicians, 
some litterateurs ; some were high-born, wealthy, and 
famous, others humble, poor, and unknown. But, in the 
few scraps of her correspondence that have been preserved, 
and in the accounts given of her by various contem- 
poraries, it is impossible to trace the slightest difference in 
her way of treating these several classes of her acquaint- 
ance. To differences in social position, indeed, to which, 
even in our democratic age, so much importance is still 

1 See Guizot's article in Revue des Deux Mondes, December 1859. 



attached, she appears to have been wholly insensible. Nor 
was this freedom from conventional exclusiveness confined 
to herself alone ; she enforced it on all those who came 
under her sway. Those magnificent grand-seigneurs, the 
Due de Laval and the Due de Noailles, must address and 
speak of M. Ballanche, the ex-printer, and M. Ampere, the 
journalist, precisely as if they happened to stand on the 
same level as themselves. She would no more tolerate 
distinctions of birth, rank, or position among her vassals 
in her presence than would the Shah of Persia. 

And thus it came about that Madame Recamier was 
able to fill her salon with persons of every school and 
shade of opinion, and every class and rank in society, and 
so to contrive that every one there, whether Royalist or 
Republican, whether Bonapartist or Legitimist, whether 
prince of the blood or struggling man of letters, should 
be made to feel perfectly at his ease. The following 
anecdote, related by Sainte-Beuve, will serve to show to 
what a height of perfection she must have brought this 

"One day in the year 1802, during the brief Peace of 
Amiens it was not at her splendid hotel in the Rue du 
Mont Blanc, but in the salon of the Chateau of Clichy, 
where she was spending the summer a number of men, 
representative of widely different interests, had met to- 
gether Adrien and Mathieu de Montmorency, General 
Moreau, several distinguished Englishmen, including 
M. Fox and M. Erskine, and many others. There they 
stood, eyeing one another, each unwilling to be the first 
to speak. M. de Narbonne, who was also present, made 
an effort to start the conversation, but, in spite of his wit, 
he failed. Madame Recamier came in. She spoke first 
to M. Fox, then a few words to everybody else in turn, 



at the same time presenting them one to the other with 
some well-turned compliments. In a moment the conver- 
sation became general ; the natural link between them had 
been found." 1 

But remarkable as was her tact, her power of sympa- 
thising with the joys and the sorrows, the hopes and the 
fears of those around her was yet more wonderful. We 
have seen her undertaking a night journey through the 
brigand-haunted Campagna to plead for the life of a poor 
fisherman whom she had never seen before, and moving 
heaven and earth to save the condemned Carbonari from 
the consequences of their folly ; but it was in less 
important matters matters which many, even of the most 
kind-hearted among us, would scarcely consider worthy of 
attention that her possession of this rare and beautiful 
quality was most strikingly evinced. " Elle ttait le genie 
de la confiance" says one of her friends ; and it was this, 
even more than her personal charms and exquisite tact, 
which attracted and attached people to her. "All who 
were admitted to her intimacy," says another, "hastened 
to her with their joys and their sorrows, their projects and 
their ideas, certain not only of secrecy and discretion, but 
of the warmest and readiest sympathy. If a man had the 
Ibauche of a book, a speech, a picture, an enterprise in his 
head, it was to her that he unfolded his half-formed plan, 
sure of an attentive and sympathising listener." 2 

But her sympathy was by no means confined to her own 
immediate circle, for Madame Mohl, who resided at the 
Abbaye-au-Bois, and had many opportunities of observing 
her, tells us that she was frequently consulted in cases of 
difficulty by people who knew her but slightly. She 

1 Cauteries du Lundi, i. 106. 

8 See the article by a personal friend, Eraser's Magazine, July 1849, 



would ask for time to reflect, and give a frank and con- 
scientious opinion. 

And this admirable trait, again, sprang from a deeper 
and more fundamental virtue, in which it is probable that 
the ultimate secret of her power lay her singular freedom 
from selfishness. We never hear of Madame Rcamier 
asking any favour or coveting any worldly success for 
herself, although she was always so ready to use her 
influence for the advancement of her friends, never 
parading her own opinions, seldom dwelling on her own 
troubles, of which in later life, it must be admitted, she 
had her full share. Her interests, it has been well said, 
were all relative. On one occasion, after she had lost 
her sight, and she fancied she had neglected some slight 
act of courtesy, she said, with her charming smile, " It is 
so inconvenient to be blind." Just as if the chief value 
of sight was the power of ministering to the needs of 

"To be beloved," says her friend, Comtesse 
d'Hautefeuille, " was the history of Madame Rcamier. 
Beloved by all in her youth, for her astonishing beauty 
beloved for her gentleness, her inexhaustible kindness, for 
the charm of a character which was reflected in her sweet 
face beloved for the tender and sympathising friendship 
which she awarded with an exquisite tact and discrimination 
of heart beloved by young and old, small and great ; by 
women, even women, so fastidious where other women are 
concerned beloved always and by all from her cradle to 
her grave. Such was the lot, such will be the renown, 
of this charming woman ! What other glory is so 




Madame Re*camier retires to 
the Abbaye-au-Bois, 185 ; 
Chateaubriand's description of 
her "cellule? 186 ; the Ab- 
baye becomes the fashion, 186 ; 
Madame Recamier's manner of 
life there, 186, 187; reading 
of Chateaubriand's play, Moise y 
attheAbbaye, 262, 26 3; change 
in the character of Madame 
Recamier's salon after the July 
revolution 272, 273 ; reading 
of Chateaubriand's Memoires 
tf Outre Tom be at the Abbaye, 
287-289 ; it becomes the most 
brilliant literary resort in Paris, 
294. ; characteristics of Madame 
Recamier's salon, 297-301 ; 
musical parties at the Abbaye, 
301 ; Mademoiselle Rachel's 
recitals there, 304 ; Madame 
Recamier's soiree musicale in aid 
of the sufferers by the inundation 
at Lyons, 310, 311 ; Beranger 
at the Abbaye, 325 ; Madame 
Re"camier leaves the Abbaye at 
the outbreak of the cholera 
epidemic of 1849, 326 

Abrantes, Andoche Junot, Due d': 
see Junot, Andoche 

Abrantes, Laure Junot, Duchesse 
d', 66, 112, 134 

Abrantes, Laure Junot, Duchesse 
d' (quoted), Preface, 35, 124 

Academic Fran9aise, 188,236, 269, 
270,312, 326 

Acte Additionnel, 154 

Adolphe^ Benjamin Constant's novel, 

151, 162 
Alexander I., Emperor of Russia, 

134, 135 note, 156, 158-160, 

167, 204 
Amiens, Peace of, 15, 23 note, 42, 

45> 329 
Ampere, Jean Jacques 

is introduced to society at the 
Abbaye-au-Bois, 188 ; accom- 
panies Madame Recamier to 
Italy, 212; Madame Recamier's 
kindness to him, 212; his 
letter to his father from Naples, 
230 ; accompanies Madame 
Recamier on her visit to the 
Due de Laval at Montigny, 
290 ; seconds her efforts to 
amuse Chateaubriand in his 
old age, 296; his "Life of 
Ballanche," 321 ; his en- 
deavours to console Madame 
Recamier after the deaths of 
Ballanche and Chateaubriand, 


Angouleme, Due d', 208, 209, 210, 

Angouleme, Duchesse d', 133, 187, 


Antigone, Ballanche's poem, 312 
Arakcheief, General, 167 
Arenenberg, Chateau d', 275,276, 

*79 2 9 J > 307 
Armistead, Mrs., 42 

Artois, Comte d' : see Charles X., 
King of France 



Atala, Chateaubriand's, 171, 175, 
1 80, 206 

Augustus of Prussia, Prince 

meets Madame Recamier at 
Coppet, 8 1 ; falls deeply in love 
with her, 81 ; urges her to 
obtain a divorce from her hus- 
band and to marry him, 82 ; 
his letters to her from Berlin, 
83 ; Madame Recamier rejects 
his offer of marriage, 84 ; his 
letters to her during the cam- 
paign of 1814, 85 ; his mor- 
ganatic marriage, 86 ; Madame 
Recamier gives him the portrait 
of herself by Gerard, 86 ; his 
letter to her shortly before his 
death in 1845, 86 


acts as hostess at Lucien Bona- 
parte's fete in honour of Napo- 
leon, 17-19 ; requests Madame 
Recamier to invite her to dinner 
to meet La Harpe, 35 ; the 
extraordinary dress affected by 
her ladies' literary society, 35 
note ; her indifference to Ma- 
dame Re"camier's grief at the 
arrest of her father, 36, 37 ; 
introduces Madame Recamier 
to Bernadotte, who procures the 
release of M. Bernard, 38 

Ballanche, Simon 

makes Madame Recamier's ac- 
quaintance at Lyons, 107 ; his 
extraordinary ugliness, 107 ; 
his devotion to Madame Re- 
camier, 107, 1 08 ; his sim- 
plicity, 108, 109 ; visits Ma- 
dame Re~camier during her stay 
in Rome, 118, 119 ; secret of 
her fascination for him, 180, 
181 ; his opposition to her 
growing intimacy with Chateau- 
briand, 181-183 ; accompanies 
her to Rome in 1823, 212 ; 

Ballanche, Simon continued 

and to Naples, 230 ; his pitiable 
anxiety during her illness in 
1837, 292 ; is elected a mem- 
ber of the Academy, 312 ; his 
letters to her, 312, 313 ; his 
daily visits to her at the Abbayc- 
au-Bois, 316 ; his illness and 
death, 318, 319 ; he is buried 
in the family vault of the Re- 
camiers, 319 

Barante, Prosper de, 80, 88, 397 

Barere, 8, 25 

Barras, 12, 13 

Bartolozzi, 48 

Bavaria, Prince-Royal of Bavaria : 
see Ludwig, etc. 

Beauharnais, Alexandre de, 276 

Beauharnais, Eugene de, 25 

Beauharnais, Hortense de : see Hor- 
tense, Queen of Holland 

Beaujolais, Comte de, 48 

Be'ranger, 325 


makes Madame Recamier's ac- 
quaintance in Madame Bac- 
ciochi's box at the Theatre 
Fran^ais on the night of M. 
Bernard's arrest, 3 8 ; intercedes 
with the First Consul and pro- 
cures M. Bernard's release, 39, 
40 ; intrigues against Bonaparte, 
51, 52; endeavours to secure 
the co-operation of Moreau at 
Madame Moreau's ball, 56, 57 ; 
his interview with Bonaparte at 
the Tuileries, 61, 62 ; his letter 
of condolence to Madame 
Recamier after the failure of 
her husband's bank, 77, 78 ; is 
elected heir to the crown of 
Sweden, 93 ; his letter of 
farewell to Madame Recamier 
from Stockholm, 94 ; persuades 
Moreau to enter the service of 
the Czar and direct the cam- 
paign of 1813, 134 



Bernadotte, Madame : see Desiree, 
Queen of Sweden 

Bernard, Jean 

is appointed collector of customs 
in Paris, 3 ; escapes the guillo- 
tine through the protection of 
Barere, 8 ; is appointed Post- 
master-General, 34 ; intrigues 
with the Royalistsand is arrested, 
3436 ; his daughter's efforts 
on his behalf 36-38; is re- 
leased through the intercession 
of Bernadotte, 40 ; visits his 
daughter at Chalons during her 
exile, 104 

Bernard, Jean Franchise Julie Ade- 
laide : see R6camier, Madame 

Bernard, Madame 

her beauty and charm of man- 
ner, 3 ; her successful specula- 
tions, 3 ; her attention to her 
daughter's personal appearance 
and education, 5, 6 ; her re- 
puted amours with Calonne 
and Barere, 8 ; swoons on re- 
ceiving intelligence of her hus- 
band's arrest, 36 ; accompanies 
Madame Recamier on her visit 
to England, 47 ; her death, 80 

Bernetti, Cardinal, 254 

Berri, Due de, 190 

Berri,Duchessede,273, 282,283,285 

Berry, Mary 

her description of the Recamiers' 
house in the Rue du Mont 
Blanc, 15, 1 6 ; her first impres- 
sions of Madame Recamier, 44 ; 
her description of a drawing- 
room at the Tuileries during 
the Peace of Amiens, 45 ; visits 
Madame Recamier at the Ab- 
baye-au-Bois, 187 ; her ludicrous 
mistake with regard to the 
Queen of Sweden, 188; her 
description of Benjamin Con- 
stant's funeral, 270 

Berryer, 273, 282, 307 

Berlin, 241, 242, 254, 256, 262 

Berthaut, I 5 

Berthier, 63, 65 

Blacas, Due de, 178 

Blucher, Marshal, 168 

Boi'eldieu, 5, 112 

Boigne, Madame de, 136 

Boileau (quoted), 295 

Bomba, King, 234 

Bonaparte at the Bridge of Lodi, 
Gros's picture of, 275 

Bonaparte, Caroline : see Caroline, 
Queen of Naples 

Bonaparte, Elisa : see Madame 

Bonaparte, Jerome, 217, 218 

Bonaparte, Joseph, 55 

Bonaparte, Letitia, 18,217 

Bonaparte, Louis : see Louis, King 
of Holland 

Bonaparte, Louis Napoleon : see 
Louis Napoleon 

Bonaparte, Lucien 

his fete in honour of the First 
Consul, 17 ; his personal ap- 
pearance, 20; his great abili- 
ties, 20 ; conceives a violent 
passion for Madame Recamier, 
2 1 ; his Letters of Romeo to 
Juliette, 21, 22 ; his advances 
repulsed by Madame Recamier, 
23 ; retaliates at Ouvrard, the 
banker's supper-party, 23 note; 
takes up his residence in Rome 
after the fall of Napoleon, 217; 
and is created Prince de Canino 
by Pius VII., 217 

Bonaparte, Napoleon: see Napoleon 
I., Emperor 

Bonaparte, Napoleon Charles, 217, 

Bonaparte, Pauline, 37 and note, 

114, 217 

Bondy, Madame de, 95 

Bonstetten, 80 

Borghese, Prince, 37 note, 114, 

115, 116 



Borghese,Princesse: see Bonaparte, 


Boulogne, Abbe" de, 113 
Boulogne, Louis Napoleon's 

attempt at, 307 
Bourbon, Duchesse de, 161 
Bourbons, The, 56, 131, 222, 267, 


Bourmont, General de, 263 
Bourrienne, 54, 66 

(quoted) 52, 53 note 
Bracciano, Due de : see Torlonia 
Bracciano, Duchesse de, 117 
Brifaut, Charles, 294 
Brillat-Savarin, Anthelme, 58 and 

Bristol, Frederick Hervey, Earl of, 


Broglie, Victor, Due de, Preface, 
137, 1 40 and note, 149, 153, 

(quoted), 163, 164 
Broglie, Duchesse de, 140, 168 
Brunswick, Ferdinand, Duke of, 

Byron, George Gordon, Lord, 281, 

285, 316, 325 
Byron, Lady, 310 

CADIZ, Constitution of Cadiz, 199 

Cadoudal, Georges, 57-60, 263 

Calonne, 3, 8 

Cambaceres, 19, 60, 65 note, 177 

Campan, Madame, 64 

Canova, Abbe, 1 1 8, 1 1 9, 1 29, 2 1 4, 

Canova, Antonio 

receives a visit from Madame 
Recamier at his atelier in Rome, 
117; his friendship with her, 
1 1 8 ; his simple manner of life 
and princely generosity, 119; 
his care of his health, 119; he 
lends Madame Recamier his 
locanda at Albano, 119; his 
busts of Madame Recamier, 

Canova, Antonio continued 

128, 129; his death, 215; 
Madame Recamier's visit to his 
grave at Possagno, 232, 233 

Canovas, The, 133 

Canning, George, 200, 203, 208, 

Carbonari, The, 193-196, 330 

Caroline, Queen of Naples 

invites Madame Recamier to 
breakfast with her at Neuilly, 
70 ; tries to induce her to 
accept the post of dame du 
palais, 71, 72 ; lends Madame 
Recamier her box at the The- 
atre-Fra^ais, 72 ; her cordial 
reception of Madame Recamier 
at Naples 123,124; her personal 
appearance and abilities, 124; 
Talleyrand's opinion of her, 
124 ; opinion of the Duchesse 
d'Abrantes, 124 note ; she pre- 
vails upon Murat to join the 
coalition against Napoleon, 125; 
her firmness and her husband's 
remorse for his treachery, 125, 
1 26 ; acts as regent during Mur- 
at's absence from Naples, 127 ; 
description of her bedchamber, 
128; pardons a criminal on 
the intercession of Madame 
Recamier, 128, 129; invites 
Madame Recamier to Naples, 
129 ; employs Benjamin Con- 
stant to defend the cause of her 
husband by his pen, 137 ; her 
proffered remuneration for this 
service refused by Constant, 
141 note ; offers Madame 
Recamier an asylum at Naples 
on the return of Napoleon from 
Elba, 151; Madame Recamier 
visits her at Trieste in 1825, 
233 ; her harsh treatment by 
the Powers, 233 ; her visit to 
Paris in 1838 to press her claims 
for compensation upon the 



Caroline, Queen of Naples cont. 
French Government, 304, 305 ; 
pension voted her by the Cham- 
bers, 305 ; her death, 305 

Casimir-Perier, 273 

Cassagnac, Granier de (quoted), 

Castiglioni, Cardinal : see Pius IX. 

Catellan, Madame de, 87, 104, 140 
note, 147 

Celles, 245 

Chambord, Henri, Comte de, 266, 

267, 273, 3|3, 3'5 3i6 
Charles X., King of France, 190, 

225, 234, 239, 240, 241, 242, 

256, 261, 262, 263, 264, 265, 

266, 283, 289 
Charriere, Madame, 138 
Chateaubriand, Lucile de, 171 
Chateaubriand, Comte Louis de, 

Chateaubriand, Comte Rene de, 


Chateaubriand, Fran9ois Rene, 

Vicomte de 

renews his acquaintance with 
Madame Re"camierat the death- 
bed of Madame de Stael, 1 70 ; 
his early life, 171 ; his journey 
to America, 171 ; his marriage 
with Mademoiselle de Lavigne, 
171, 172 ; joins the emigres and 
is wounded at the siege of 
Thionville, 172; escapes to 
England, 172; his privations 
in London, 172, 173 ; his love 
affair with Miss Ives of Bun- 
gay, 173, 174; his Essai sur les 
Revolutions, 1 74 ; returns to 
France, 174; great success of 
his Le Genie du Christianisme, 

174 ; goes as attache to Rome, 

175 ; and as envoy to the 
Valais, 175 ; resigns his post 
and opposes Napoleon, 175; 
Napoleon's opinion of him, 
175, 176 ; his journey to the 

Chateaubriand, Fran9ois Rene", 

Vicomte de continued 
East, 176; publication of the 
Itineraire and Les Martyrs, 
1 76 ; is elected a member of 
the Institute, 177; his address 
highly displeasing to the Em- 
peror, 177, 178 ; is ordered to 
leave Paris, 178; his pamphlet 
De TSonaparte et des Bourbons 
" worth a hundred thousand 
men to the Legitimist cause," 
178; is made a peer, 178; 
accompanies the Court to 
Ghent during the Hundred 
Days, 178 ; listens to the can- 
non of Waterloo, 178, 179 ; his" 
opposition to the Govern- 
ment after the Second Restora- 
tion, 179; his name is struck 
off the list of Ministers of State, 
1 79 ; his personal appearance, 
1 79 ; his attraction for women, 
179; his egotism, vanity, and 
ambition, 179; his melancholy 
disposition, 179 ; his admira- 
tion for Madame Recamier re- 
ciprocated, 1 80 ; her friendship 
"a relief to his spirits," 1 80, 1 8 1 ; 
his description of her "cell" at 
the Abbaye-au-Bois, 186; his 
character and habits, 188, 189; 
Madame Recamier's devotion 
to and influence over him, 
188,189; is sent as Minister to 
Berlin, 190 ; his letters to 
Madame Recamier from Berlin, 
190-192 ; goes as ambassador 
to London, 191 ; his reception 
there, 198 ; his dislike of Eng- 
lish society, 198, 199; his desire 
to represent France at the Con- 
gress of Verona, 200 ; invokes 
Madame Recamier's assistance, 
and is nominated to the Con- 
gress, 20 1 ; his duplicity, 201, 
202 ; his intrigues at Verona, 



Chateaubriand, Frar^ois Rene, 

Vicomte de continued 
203, 204; becomes Minister for 
Foreign Affairs in place of 
Mathieu de Montmorency, 
206 ; forces the Cabinet into 
armed intervention in Spain, 
208 ; his triumph and tempo- 
rary popularity, 210; effects of 
popular adulation upon him, 
2 1 1 ; strained relations between 
him and Montmorency, 211 ; 
rupture of his friendship with 
Madame Recamier, 212 ; his 
letter to her, 212,213; his con ~ 
duct with regard to Villele's 
revenue bill causes the loss of 
the measure, 223,224; his igno- 
minious dismissal from office, 
225,226; hisrevenge, 226, 227; 
his pamphlet, Le Roi est mort! 
Vive le Roi! 234 ; renewal of 
his friendly relations with 
Madame Recamier, 235 ; de- 
clines the post of Minister of 
Public Instruction in the Mar- 
tignac Ministry, 240 ; goes as 
ambassador to the Vatican, 
242 ; his letters to Madame 
Recamier from Rome, 242 
260 ; his interview with 
Charles X. on his return from 
Rome, 262; reading of his play 
Mo'ise at the Abbaye-au-Bois, 
262,263 5 endeavours to dissuade 
the King from provoking a con- 
test with the nation, 263 ; re- 
signs his post at the Vatican, 
263 ; remains neutral during 
the July Revolution, 265 ; his 
interview with Louis Philippe, 
266,267; and with the Duchesse 
d'Orlans, 267, 268 ; refuses to 
take office under Louis Philippe 
and retires from public life, 
268 ; is arrested on suspicion 
of instigating a Royalist rising in 

Chateaubriand, Fran9ois Ren, 

Vicomti de continued 
La Vendee, but the charge 
breaks down, 273 ; visits Queen 
Hortense at Chateau d'Aren- 
enberg, 279 ; his description 
of his visit with Madame Re- 
camier to the grave of Madame 
de Stael at Coppet, 280-282 ; 
is prosecuted by the Govern- 
ment on account of his pam- 
phlet in defence of the 
Duchesse de Berri, 282 ; is 
defended by Berryer and ac- 
quitted, 282 ; his journey to 
Prague on behalf of the 
Duchesse de Berri, 283 ; and 
to Venice, 283 ; his letters to 
Madame Recamier from Venice, 
283-285 ; his second journey 
to Prague marks the close of 
his political career, 285, 286 ; 
becomes a martyr to ennui, 287 ; 
efforts of Madame Recamier to 
give an interest to his life, 
287 ; readings of his Memoires 
d'Outre Tombe at the Abbaye- 
au-Bois, 287-289; his financial 
embarrassments, 289 ; he dis- 
poses of his memoirs in return 
for a pension, 289, 290 ; his 
dislike of this transaction, 290 ; 
his pitiable anxiety during 
Madame Recamier's illness in 
1837, 292, 293; his daily visits 
his intense dislike of bas-bleus, 
294 ; his feeble health and low 
spirits, 295 ; Madame Re- 
camier's devotion to him, 295, 
296 ; his reserve in the presence 
of strangers, 297 ; George 
Ticknor's description of the two 
Chateaubriands, 297 ; Louis 
Napoleon's letter to him from 
his prison at Ham, 308, 309; his 
high opinion of Louis Napo* 



Chateaubriand, Frai^ois Rene", 

Vicomte de continued 
Icon, 309 ; his morbid fear of 
outliving his fame, 313; visits 
the Cointe de Chambord in 
London, 313, 314; his letters 
to Madame Recamier from 
London, 314; his touching 
loyalty to the young prince, 
314; his interview with 
Madame Guizot at Auteuil, 
315; his visit to the Comtc de 
Chambord at Venice, 3 1 6, 3 1 7 ; 
meets with an accident in 
alighting from his carriage, 
318 ; gradual failure of his 
mental faculties, 319, 320; 
Madame Mohl's anecdote, 320; 
his offer of marriage to Madame 
Recamier, 320; his illness and 
death, 322, 323 ; his grave at 
St. Malo, 323 

Chateaubriand, Madame de, 171, 
172, 189-190, 243, 245, 246, 
249, 251, 253, 258, 265, 282, 

*93 3I3 319 
Chauvin (painter), 251 
Chenier, Joseph de, 1 76 
Chenet, Madame, 194 
Chevreuse, Duchesse de, 67, 105, 

and note, 106 

Chevreux, Madame (quoted), 215 
Child, Mrs. (quoted), 167, 168 
Choron, 301 
Clary, Desiree : see Desiree, Queen 

of Sweden 
Clavier, 60 
Clichy, The Recamiers' chateau at, 

12, 13, 30,41, 43, 66, 67, 72, 


Coghill, Sir John, 121, 122 

Comite de Salut Public, 9 

Consalvi, Cardinal, 216, 219, 221 

Constant, Benjamin 

his speech in the Senate in 
1803, accusing Bonaparte of 
aiming at absolute power, 55 ; 

Constant, Benjamin continued 
plays Hippolytus in blue spec- 
tacles at Geneva, 87 ; his char- 
acter, 137; his susceptibility to 
feminine influence, 137, 138; 
falls madly in love with Madame 
Recamier, 138; his extra- 
ordinary love-letters, 1 38-149 ; 
Madame Recamier's treatment 
of him considered, 149-151 ; 
his brochure in defence of 
Murat, King of Naples, 141 
note ; his refusal to accept 
remuneration for his services, 
141 note; his violent attack 
on Napoleon in the Journal 
des De'bats after the Emperor's 
return from Elba, 153 ; he flies 
to Nantes, 154; but returns 
and is reconciled to Napoleon, 
155 ; he becomes a Councillor 
of State, 155; " Le Benjami- 
nisme," 155 ; probable reason 
for these remarkable tergiversa- 
tions, 154, 155 ; his friendship 
with Madame deKriidener, 1 6 1 - 
163 ; her proposal to establish 
a lieu tfame between him and 
Madame Recamier, 163 ; he be- 
comes a mystic, 163, 164 ; and 
a devil-worshipper, 164; his 
behaviour described by the 
Due de Broglie, 164 ; his op- 
position to the Spanish War in 
1823, 209; he is prosecuted 
by the Government on account 
of his writings, 209 ; Madame 
Recamier intercedes for him, 
209 ; supports Louis Philippe 
in 1 8 30, 269 ; honours bestowed 
upon him, 269 ; his anxiety to 
become a member of the 
Academy, 269 ; his proposal to 
Guizot in order to ensure his 
election, 269 ; his letter to 
Madame R6camier, 269 ; he is 
rejected by the Academy, 270 ; 



Constant, Benjamin continued 
his chagrin and death, 270; 
honours paid to his memory, 
270 ; Mary Berry's account of 
his funeral, 270 
Constant, Charles, 155 note 
Constant, Madame, 138 
Constant, Rosalie, 155 note 
Constitutional, The, 208 
Coppet, 15, 79-80, 8 1, 87, 91, 
100, 101, 102, 109, 151, 168, 

Corbiere, 192, 224 
Corinne, Gerard's picture of, 86 
Corinne, Madame de StaeTs, 6, 14, 

138, 148, 168 
Coudert, 195 
Coulommier, 89 
Courland, Duchesse de, 1 35 
Courrier, The, 256 
Cousin, Victor, 247, 262, 272 
Covent Garden Theatre, Madame 

Recamier's reception at, 48 
Cumberland, Duchess of, 191 and 


Cuvier, 273 

Cyvoct, Amelie de : see Lenormant, 

DALMASSY, Madame de, 104 

Damas, Baron de, 229 

Dan ton, 320 

Daru, 177, 178 

David, Jacques Louis, (painter) 33 

David, Paul, 217, 317 

Davidde, 245 

Davy, Lady, 187 

Davy, Sir Humphry, 187 

*De Bonaparte et des Bourbons, 

Chateaubriand's, 153, 178 
Decazes, 190 
Deguerry, Abbe, 323 
Delecluze, 215 
De V Allemagne, Madame de 

StaeTs, 14, 87, 90, 91 
De T Esprit de Conquete, Benjamin 

Constant's, 153 

Delon, 194, 195, 196 
Delphin, Madame, in 
Demidoff, 46 
Demi doff, Madame, 46 
De'mocratie en Amerique, Alexis de 

Tocqueville's, 294 
Dernieres Vues de Politique et de 

Finance, Necker's, 55 
Desiree, Queen of Sweden, 52, 

136, 188 
Despaze, 13 
Devonshire, Elizabeth Cavendish, 

Duchess of, 

visits Madame Recamier at the 
Abbaye-au-Bois, 1 87 ; takes up 
her residence in Rome and 
becomes the leader of society 
there, 215 ; her munificent 
patronage of art and literature, 
216 ; her friendship with Ma- 
dame Recamier, 216 ; her grief 
at the death of Cardinal Con- 
salvi, 216, 217 ; her illness and 
death, 219, 220 ; singular con- 
duct of her step-son, the young 
Duke of Devonshire, 219-221 ; 
possible explanation of this, 2 2 1 
Devonshire, Georgiana Cavendish, 

Duchess of, 47, 48, 221 
Devonshire, William Cavendish, 

fifth Duke of, 

Devonshire, William Spencer Cav- 
endish, sixth Duke of, 219-221 
Dolgourski, Princess, 31 note 
Doudeauville, Due de, 104, 229 
Doumerc, Madame, 112 
Druot, Dr., 317 
Duchatel, Comte, 303 
Dumas, Alexandre pere, 276, 277, 

278, 307 
(quoted) 276, 277 

EDGEWORTH, Maria, 187 

(quoted) 31 note, 185 note 
Empaytaz, 161 
Enghien, Due d', 59, 65, 68, 175 



Erskine, 319 

Esmenard, 101 

Essai sur les Revolutions, Chateau- 
briand's, 174 

Estournelles, Baron d', Preface 

Estournelles, M. d', 138 

Eudorus and Cymodocea, Tenerani's 
bas-relief of, 232 

Eynard (quoted), 156 note 

FERDINAND IV., Kingof Naples,! 51, 

Ferdinand VII., King of Spain, 

199, 210 

Fesch, Cardinal, 175, 217 
Fitz-James, 273 
Forbin, Comte Auguste de, 142 

note, 146, 153 

Forster, Lady Elizabeth : see Eliza- 
beth, Duchess of Devonshire 
Forster, Mr. John, 215 
Fouche, Joseph, Due d'Otrante 
his overtures to Madame Reca- 
mier on behalf of Napoleon, 
66-72 ; his fury at her refusal 
of the post of dame du palais, 
72, 73 ; his meeting with Ma- 
dame Recamier at Terracina in 
1813, 122, 123 

Fox, Charles James, 42, 43, 329 
Foy, General, 208, 270 
Fragments Historiques 1 68 8 et 1830, 

Louis Napoleon's 

Erasers Magazine (quoted), 128, 

GARAT, 19 

Gay, Delphine, 54 note, 187 

Gay, Sophie, 54 note 

Gazette de France, 252, 257 

Gentleman's Magazine, 49 

George, Prince of Wales, 48 

George, Grand-Duke of Mecklen- 

makes the acquaintance of 

George, Grand-Duke of Mecklen- 

burg-Strelitz continued 
Madame Rccamiei at a bat- 
masqut at the Opera, 96 ; visits 
her incognito, 96 ; and is mis- 
taken by the concierge for a 
thief, 97 ; his letter to Madame 
Recamier in 1845, 98,99 

Genlis, Madame de (quoted), 98 

Gerard, 33, 34, 86, 97 

Gerando, Baron de, 161 

Gibbon, 215 

Girardin, Madame : see Gay, 

Gregoire, Bishop of Blois, 161 

Gregory XVI., Pope, 233 

Gros, 275 

Guerin, Pierre, 215, 243, 252 

Guignes, Due de, 24, 47 

Guizot, 269, 270, 272, 282, 314, 

Guizot, Madame, 314, 315 

Guyot, Abbe", 35 note 

HARCOURT, Eugene d', 1 1 1 
Hardenberg, Count, 83, 138 
Hautefeuille, Comtesse d' (quoted), 


Helena, Grand-Duchess, of Russia, 

Hildebrand, Henri, 247 

Hingant, 172 

Hortense, Queen of Holland 

is created Duchess de St. Leu 
at the Restoration, 135 note; 
her letter to Madame Recamier 
during the Hundred Days, 
152 ; renews her acquaintance 
with Madame Recamier at 
Rome in 1824, 216; their 
practical joke at Torlonia's 
masked ball, 218, 219; her 
adventures in Italy, 274, 275 ; 
receives Madame Recamier and 
Chateaubriand at Chateau d' 
Arenenberg, 275-279 ; follows 
Louis Napoleon to Paris after 



Hortense, Queen of Holland 


the failure of his attempt at 
Strasburg, 290 ; her grief at the 
separation from her son, 291 ; 
her death, 292 

Houssaye, Arsene, 303 

Humboldt, Alexander von, 187 

Hyde de Neuville, 273 

Itineraire de Paris a Jerusalem, 

Chateaubriand's, 176 
Ives, Charlotte, 173, 174 

JADIN, 19 

Joachim, King of Naples: see Murat, 

Jomini, General, 75 

Jordan, Camille, 75, 105, 107, 1 14, 

Josephine, Empress, 45, 64, 65, 71, 
98, 105, 276, 278 

Journal des De'bats, 153, 227, 241, 
242, 262 

Journal Intime, Benjamin Con- 
stant's, Preface, 149 note, 163 

Junot, Andoche, Due d'Abrantes, 

75> 77 104 

Junot, Madame : see Duchesse 


Kriidener, Madame de 

her early life, 156; Vallrie, 1 56, 
157 ; her conversion, 153 ; her 
extraordinary influence over the 
Emperor Alexander of Russia, 
158, 159 ; his visits to her at 
the Hotel Montchenu, 1 59 ; 
Talleyrand and Metternich 
strive in vain to counteract her 
influences, 160 ; her evening 
stances attended by the most 
distinguished people in Paris, 

Kriidener, Madame de continued 
161 ; Chateaubriand's opinion 
of her, 1 6 1 ; her sympathy for 
Benjamin Constant, 162, 163 ; 
her friendship with Madame 
Recamier, 162, 163 ; tries to 
establish a "lien d'ame" be- 
tween Constant and Madame 
Recamier, 163 ; her letter to 
Madame Recamier from Basle, 
165, 1 66; her last years and 
death, 166, 167 

Kriidener, Baron de, 156 


Labourdonnaie, 263 

La Deserte, Convent of, 3 

Lafayette, 25, 168, 193, 268 

La Ferronnays, 254 note 

Lafont, Pierre (actor), 38 and note, 
262, 263 

La Harpe 

makes a pet of Madame Rca- 
mier when a child, 4 ; her 
kindness to him, 30 ; his unfor- 
tunate marriage, 30, 31 ; his 
mode bf life described by Maria 
Edgeworth, 3 1 note; is made the 
victim of a practical joke at 
Clichy, 32, 33 

La Harpe, Madame: see Longuerue, 
Mademoiselle de 

Lamartine, 187, 262 

(quoted) I, 199, 207, 241, 

La Prade, 319 

La Presse, 325 

La Rochefoucauld, Sosthenes de,iO4 

La Rochefoucaulds, The, 104, 271 

Lauzun, Due de, 225 

Laval, Abbe de, 26 

Laval, Adrien de Montmorency, 


the great nobleman par excel- 
lence, 25 ; his kindness when 
ambassador in Rome to Madame 



Laval, Adrien de Montmorency, 

Due de continued 
Recamier, 214; his princely 
hospitality, 216; is present at 
the death of Elizabeth, Duchess 
of Devonshire, 220 ; shares 
Madame Recamier's conviction 
with regard to the singular 
conduct of the young Duke of 
Devonshire, 221 ; condemns 
Chateaubriand's violence 
against his former colleagues, 
229 ; resigns his post at the 
Vatican in order to please 
Madame Recamier, 240, 241 ; 
Madame Recamier visits him 
at Montigny shortly before his 
death, 290 
La Valliere, Mademoiselle de, 


"Le tBenjaminisme" 154 
Leclerc, General, 37 note 
Leclerc, Madame : see Bonaparte, 


Le Genie du Christianisme, Chateau- 
briand's, 113, 174, 297 
Lemoignon, Christian de, 24, 34 
Lenormant, Charles, 33, 103, 231, 

235,282, 288 

Lenormant, Madame, Preface, 86, 
103 and note, 113, 119, 137, 
182,212, 230, 231, 235, 261, 

(quoted), 6, 10, 17, 23, 30, 
117, 137, 149, 189, 324, 325, 
326, 327 

Lenormants, The, 326 
Leo XII., Pope, 244, 249, 254, 

Le Roi est mart! Vive le Rot! 

Chateaubriand's, 234 
Le Roy, 88 
Lescure (quoted), 179 
Les Maccabees, 251 
Les Martyrs, Chateaubriand's, 176, 

" Les Quatres Heures" 294 

Les Letlres de Benjamin Constant a 
Madame Recamier , Preface, 103 
note, 139 

Lettres sur flta/ie, Chateaubriand's, 


Lieven, Princesse de, 219 
" Lipona, Comtesse de " : see Caro- 
line, Queen of Naples 
Longchamps, Charles de, 71 
Longuerue, Madame de, 30, 31 
Longuerue, Mademoiselle de, 30, 3 1 
Lom6nie, Louis de, 294 

(quoted), 295 
Louis XIV., 2, 295 
Louis XV., 185 
Louis XVI., 5, 64, 172 
Louis XVIIL, 134, 135 note, 154, 
175, 179, 204, 205, 206, 224, 
226, 234, 262 

Louis, King of Holland, 217, 276 
Louis Napoleon (afterwards Napo- 
leon III.) 

accompanies Queen Hortense 
to Rome, 217 ; his adventures 
during the insurrection in 
Romagna, 274, 275 ; his cha- 
racter, 279 ; his life at Chateau 
d'Arenenberg, 279; is brought 
to Paris for trial after his 
attempt at Strasburg in 1836, 

290 ; is banished to America, 

291 ; Madame Re"camier a 
witness at his trial after the 
affair at Boulogne, 307 ; hi 
witty remark on learning hi 
sentence, 307 ; Madame Re"- 
camier visits him at the Con- 
ciergerie, 308 ; his letters to 
her and to Chateaubriand from 
his prison at Ham, 308, 309 ; 
Chateaubriand's high opinion 
of him, 309 ; calls at the 
Abbaye-au-Bois on his return 
to Paris in 1848, 309 

Louis Philippe, King of the 
French, 266, 267, 268, 269, 
275, 322 



Ludwig, Prince-Royal of Bavaria, 

94 95 9 6 
Luynes, Duchesse de, 105, 106, 


Luynes, Hotel de, 10, 236 
Luyster, Miss, Preface 

MADAME Mere: see Bonaparte, Le- 

Madame Royale, 5 

Maintenon, Madame de, 295 

Marat, 320 

Marcellus, Comte de, 201 

Marie Antoinette, 5, 8, 64 

Marie Louise, Empress, 276 

Martignac, 240, 241, 263 

Mecldenburg-Strelitz, Grand-Duke 
of: see George, &c. 

Meditations, Lamartine's, 187 

Melegari, M. (quoted), 138, 153, 

Memoir et d* Outre Tombe, Chateau- 
briand's, 287-290, 315, 325 
(quoted), 171, 172, 173, 186, 
191 note, 198, 280-282 

Mercure, The, 177 

M6rime, Prosper, 187, 262 

Metternich, 151, 160, 175, 199, 

Meuss (banker), 148 

Michelet (quoted), 107 

Miollis, General de, 120 

Miozis, 130 

Mohl, Madame, Preface, 330 

(quoted), 212, 272, 287, 288, 

299> 320, 322 

Mole, Comte (quoted), 179 

Moliere, 298 

Monarchie selon la Charte > Chateau- 
briand's, 179 

Moniteur, The, I 54 

Montalembert, 187 

Montesquieu, Comte Anatole de, 

Montez, Lola, 94 

Montholon, 307 

Montmorency, Adrien de : see Laval, 


Montmorency, Baron de, 231 
Montmorency, Baronne de, 231 
Montmorency, Duchesse Mathieu 

de, 237, 238 
Montmorency, Mathieu de 

accompanies Lafayette to Ame- 
rica, 25 ; takes a prominent part 
in the Revolution, 25, 26; 
change in his life consequent 
upon his brother's execution, 
26 ; his unselfish affection for 
Madame Recamier, 26 ; his 
letters to her, 2629 ; is con- 
sulted by Madame Recamier 
with regard to Fouche overtures, 
70 ; is accused by Fouche of 
having induced Madame Reca- 
mier to refuse the post of dame 
du palais, 72, 73 ; is exiled by 
Napoleon, 101 ; visits Madame 
Recamier at Lyons, 113; be- 
comes Chevalier d'honneur to 
the Duchesse d'Angouleme, 133; 
disapproves of Madame Reca- 
mier's intimacy with Chateau- 
briand, 181-183; his visits to 
Madame Recamier at the Ab- 
baye-au-Bois, 187 ; becomes 
Minister for Foreign Affairs, 
192; declines to nominate 
Chateaubriand to the Congress 
of Verona, 200 ; but ultimately 
consents at the request of 
Madame Recamier, 201 ; his 
letter to Madame Recamier 
from Verona, 202 ; his amazing 
indiscretions at the Congress, 
203, 204; returns to Paris and is 
made a duke, 204, 205 ; his col- 
leagues refuse to ratify his action 
at Verona, 205,206; resigns and 
is succeeded by Chateaubriand, 
206; his magnanimous conduct, 
207 ; his letter to Madame 
Recamier,2O7, 208; his relations 



Montmorency, Mathieu de cant. 
with Chateaubriand become 
strained, 211, 212; Madame 
Recamier's letter to him from 
Rome, 221, 222 ; his generous 
approbation of Chateaubriand's 
action with regard to the re- 
venue bill, 228 ; is elected a 
member of the Academy, 236 ; 
and appointed Governor to the 
young Due de Bordeaux, 236; 
his sudden death, 236; his noble 
character, 236, 237 

Montpensier, Due de, 48 

Moore, Thomas (the poet), 1 89 

Moreau, Madame, 56, 57, 133, 
134, 1 86, 187 

Moreau, Victor 

his refusal to co-operate with 
Bernadotte against Bonaparte 
in 1803, 56; his conversation 
with Bernadotte at Madame 
Moreau's ball, 56, 57 ; his trial 
described by Madame Recamier, 
58-60 ; is banished to America, 
6 1 ; enters the service of the 
Czar and agrees to direct the 
campaign of 1813, 134 ; is 
mortally wounded before Dres- 
den, 134; his widow made 
Marlchale de France by Louis 
XVIIL, 134 

Murat, Caroline : see Caroline, 
Queen of Naples 

Murat, Joachim, King of Naples 
his kindness to Madame R<5ca- 
mier on the occasion of her 
first visit to Naples, 123, 124 ; 
his character, 124; joins the 
coalition against Napoleon in 
1814, 125 ; his remorse for his 
treachery, 125, 126; his removal 
from the throne of Naples in- 
sisted on by France at Vienna, 
151 ; leads his army against 
the Austrians in 1815, 15 I ; is 
defeated and flies to France, 

Murat, Joachim, King of Naples 


152 ; attempts to recover hia 
kingdom, 152 ; is taken prisoner 
and shot, 152 

NAPOLEON I., Emperor 

Fete in his honour at the 
Luxembourg, 1 1, 12 ; Madame 
Recamier meets him at dinner 
at Lucien Bonaparte's, 17 ; his 
behaviour at the dinner-table 
and in the music-room, 18, 
19 ; his embarrassing attentions 
to Madame Recamier, 20 ; 
extraordinary eagerness of Eng- 
lish visitors to see him during 
the Peace of Amiens, 45 ; Mary 
Berry's description of a drawing- 
room at the Tuileries, 45 ; his 
growing power, 50 ; Berna- 
dotte's intrigues against him, 
51, 52 ; antagonism between 
him and Madame de Stacl, 52- 
55 ; banishes her from Paris, 
55 ; his interview with Berna- 
dotte after the arrest of Moreau, 
6 1, 62 ; becomes Emperor, 
63 ; desires that his Court shall 
rival that of the ancient mon- 
archy, 64 ; Madame de Remu- 
sat's and Madame de StaeTs 
account of it, 64 ; wishes to 
attach Madame Recamier to 
the Court, 65, 66 ; instructs 
Fouche to make overtures to 
her, 66 ; sinister motives attri- 
buted to him, 66 ; his undis- 
guised admiration for Madame 
Recamier, 72 ; commissions 
Fouche to offer her the post of 
dame du palais^ 72; her refusal, 
72; Napoleon's revenge, 74; his 
remark on hearing of the wide- 
spread sympathy which her 
misfortunes were arousing, 75 ; 



Napoleon I., Emperor continued 
his suppression of Madame de 
StaeTs De V Allemagne, 90 ; 
his animosity towards Madame 
Rcamier, 98, 99, 100 ; his 
persecution of MadamedeStael, 
100; he banishes Mathieu de 
Montmorency and Madame 
Recamier from Paris, 101, 102 ; 
his harsh treatment of Madame 
deChevreuse, 105 ; he ignores 
Madame Recamier's presence 
in Paris on his return from Elba, 
152; he wins over Benjamin 
Constant to his side, 154, 155 ; 
his opinion of Chateaubriand, 
174, 175 ; the Napoleonic 
relics at Chateau d'Arenenberg, 
275, 276; gueen Hortense's 
account of an evening at Mal- 
maison, 277-279 
Narbonne, Louis de, 24, 35, 329 
Necker, 13, 55, 281 
Necker, Madame, 281 
Nesselrode, Madame de, 231 
Noailles, Due de, 231, 321, 329 
Noailles, Duchesse de, 231,321 
Norvins, 120 


Orleans, Due d' : see Louis Philippe 

Orleans, Duchesse d', 266, 267, 


Ouvrard, 23 note 
Ozanam, Frederic, 294 

PALLI, Count, 283 
Palli, Marquis Lucchesi, 
Part ant pour la Syrie, 277 
Pasquier, Baron, 103, 187, 293, 

Perier, Auguste, 187 

Peyronnet, 192 

Philippe Egalite, Due d'Orleans, 

Photius, 167 

Pichegru, 57, 59 

Pignatelli, Prince, 74 

Pilorge, Hyacinth, 191, 225, 250, 

Pius VII., Pope, 1 1 6, 130, 215, 


Pius IX., Pope, 256 
Polignac, 59, 263, 264 
Portalis, 91 
Poussin, Nicolas, 248, 252 

QUELEN, Archbishop of Paris, 223 
Quotidienne, The, 252 

RACHEL, Mademoiselle 

her romantic career, 301 ; her 
remarkable gifts as a tragedienne, 
301 ; her avariciousness, 302 ; 
anecdote of the old guitar, 302 ; 
anecdote of Comte Duchatel's 
silver bowl, 303 ; her kindness 
to the young playwright, 304 ; 
her popularity in society, 304 

Raguse, Duchesse de, 291 

Rambouillet, Hotel de, 298 

R6camier, Jacques 

his character, 6; marries Juliette 
Bernard, 7 ; his habit of at- 
tending executions during the 
Reign of Terror, 7, 8 ; curious 
story about his marriage, 8 ; 
he purchases Necker's house in 
the Rue du Mont Blanc, 13 ; 
his propensity for match-mak- 
ing, 30 ; his financial diffi- 
culties, 73 ; refusal of the Bank 
of France to assist him, 74 ; his 
bank suspends payment, 74 ; 
his honourable conduct, 74 ; 
his reply to Madame Recamier's 
proposal for a divorce, 82 ; he 
visits his wife at Chalons during 
her exile, 104 ; partially re- 
covers his losses, 132 ; but fails 



Re"camier, Jacques continued 

again, 1 84 ; his last years and 
death, 263, 264 

Re"camier, Laurent, 47 

Re"camier, Madame 

birth and parentage, 2 ; is sent 
to the convent of La Deserte, 3 ; 
joins her parents in Paris, 4 ; 
attracts the attention of Marie 
Antoinette, 5 ; her musical 
tastes, 6 ; her marriage with R6- 
camier, the banker, 7 ; mystery 
about this, 8 ; her extraor- 
dinary beauty, 10-12; her 
kindness of heart. 13 ; begin- 
ning of her friendship with 
Madame de Stael, 14 ; her 
house in the Rue du Mont 
Blanc, 15, 16; her meeting 
with Napoleon, 17-20; arouses 
the passion of Lucien Bona- 
parte, 20, 21 ; Letters of Ro- 
meo to Juliette, 21-23 5 popu- 
larity of her receptions, 24-25 ; 
her friendship with Mathieu de 
Montmorency, 25-29; and 
with La Harpe, 29-33 ; her 
portraits by David and by 
Gerard, 33 ; arrest of her 
father, M. Bernard, 36 ; her 
efforts on his behalf 37 ; makes 
the acquaintance of Bernadotte, 
38 ; her adventure in the 
Temple, 39 ; becomes the 
acknowledged queen of society, 
41 ; Charles James Fox's 
opinion of her, 42 ; impres- 
sions of John Bernard Trotter 
and of Mary Berry, 44 ; her 
adventure with the Prince of 
Wiirtemberg, 47 ; her visit to 
England, 47-50 ; becomes the 
confidante of Bernadotte's in- 
trigues against Napoleon, 55- 
57 ; her account of the trial of 
Moreau, Pichegru, and Cadou- 
dal, 58-60; supposed intentions 

Re"camier, Madame continued 
of Napoleon with regard to 
her, 65, 66 ; Fouch^'s overtures, 
67-7 1 ; refuses the post of dame 
du palais, 72 ; failure of her 
husband's bank, 74 ; her cour- 
age in misfortune, 74, 75 ; her 
visit to Madame de Stael at 
Coppet, 80 ; her love affair 
with Prince Augustus of Prussia, 
81-87 5 h er friendship with the 
Grand-Duke of Mecklenburg- 
Strelitz, 96-99 ; hostility of 
Napoleon towards her, 99 ; she 
is banished from Paris, 102 ; 
she goes to Chalons-sur-Marne, 
102 ; and to Lyons, 104 ; be- 
ginning of her friendship with 
Simon Ballanche, 107 ; annoy- 
ances she is subjected to as an 
exile, no, in; goes to Italy, 
113; her impressions of Turin, 
114-116 ; arrives in Rome, 
116; her friendship with the 
Canovas, 1 1 8 ; her attempt to 
save the life of a condemned 
fisherman, 119-121 ; sets out 
for Naples, 122; meeting with 
Fouch6 at Terracina, 122 ; 
reception by the King and 
Queen of Naples, 123 ; wit- 
nesses a painful scene at the 
palace, 125, 126 ; intercedes 
for a criminal, 128 ; returns to 
Rome, 128 ; her bust by Ca- 
nova, 128, 129; second visit 
to Naples, 129 ; witnesses the 
entry of Pius VII. into Rome, 
130; returns to Paris, 131 ; 
renewed social successes, 132, 
133 ; her acquaintance with the 
Duke of Wellington, 135-137; 
becomes the object of a desper- 
ate passion on the part of Ben- 
jamin Constant, 137, 138 ; his 
extraordinary letters to her, 
139-149; her treatment of him 



Rcamier, Madame continued 
considered, 149-151 ; remains 
in Paris during the Hundred 
Days, 151, 152 ; her friendship 
with Madame de Kriidener, 
162166 ; her meeting with 
Chateaubriand, 170; his ad- 
miration for her reciprocated, 
1 80 ; second failure of her hus- 
band, 1 84 ; retires to the Ab- 
baye-au-Bois, 185 ; her recep- 
tions at the Abbaye, 187, 188 ; 
her influence over Chateaubri- 
and, 1 8 8, 189 ; her efforts on 
behalf of the condemned Car- 
bonari, 194-196 ; obtains Cha- 
teaubriand's nomination to the 
Congress of Verona, 201 ; 
rupture of their friendly rela- 
tions, 211 ; goes to Italy, 212; 
her receptions in Rome, 214 ; 
her friendship with Elizabeth, 
Duchess of Devonshire, 216, 
217; her meeting with Queen 
Hortense, 217 ; their practical 
joke at Torlonia's masked ball, 
218, 219; is present at the 
death of the Duchess of Devon- 
shire, 220 ; her opinion of the 
young Duke's singular beha- 
viour, 221 ; makes the acquain- 
tance of Madame Salvage, 222; 
revisits Naples, 230, 231 ; forms 
a friendship with Madame 
Swetchine, 231 ; visits the 
grave of Canova at Possagno, 
232 ; visits Caroline Murat at 
Trieste, 233 ; returns to Paris, 
234 ; renews her friendly rela- 
tions with Chateaubriand, 235; 
her niece's marriage to Charles 
Lenormant, the antiquary, 235; 
her relations with the widow 
of Mathieu de Montmorency, 
237, 238 ; persuades the Due 
de Laval to surrender the 
embassy at Rome to Chateau- 

Re"camier, Mauame continued 
briand, 241 ; Chateaubriand's 
letters to her from Rome, 242- 
260 ; her husband's death, 263, 
264 ; goes to Dieppe, 264 ; 
but returns to Paris at the out- 
break of the July Revolution, 
265 ; change in the character 
of her salon, 271 ; her sympa- 
thy for sincere political convic- 
tions, 272 ; her ungovernable 
dread of cholera, 274 ; goes to 
Switzerland, 274; visits Queen 
Hortense at CMteau d'Aren- 
enberg, 275 ; Alexander Du- 
mas pere's impression of her, 
276 ; makes a pilgrimage with 
Chateaubriand to the grave of 
Madame de Stael, 279-282 ; 
Chateaubriand's letters to her 
from Venice, 283-285 ; her 
efforts to cure Chateaubriand's 
ennui, 287 ; arranges readings 
of Chateaubriand's memoirs at 
the Abbaye-au-Bois, 287-289 ; 
negotiates the sale of the me- 
moirs, 289, 290 ; her illness 
and recovery, 292, 293 ; origi- 
nates afternoon " At Homes," 
294 ; her salon becomes the 
most brilliant literary resort in 
Paris, 294 ; her devotion to 
Chateaubriand, 295, 296 ; 
some characteristics of her 
salon, 297-301 ; goes to Ems, 
306 ; visits Louis Napoleon 
at the Conciergerie, 307 ; her 
soiree musicale at the Abbaye- 
au-Bois, 310, 311 ; her beauty 
in old age, 311; her friend- 
ship with Madame Guizot, 314; 
her habits, 315, 316; loses her 
sight, 317; is present at the 
death of Ballanche, 319; refuses 
Chateaubriand's offer of mar- 
riage, 320 ; her devotion to 
him during his last illness, 322, 


Re"camier, Madame continued 
323 ; her intense grief at his 
death, 324; she is attacked by 
cholera, 326 ; her death, 326 ; 
the secret of her influence, 

Remusat, 272 
Remusat, Madame de, Preface, 52, 


(quoted), 105, 1 06 note, 175 
Rene, Chateaubriand's, 171, 174, 

176, 285, 325 
(quoted), 280 

Reveries potitiques, Louis Napo- 
leon's, 309 
Reschid Pacha, 310 
Riviere, 59 
Robespierre, 327 
Rocca, Jean de, 109, 169 
Rohan-Chabot, Prince de, izi, 


Rondelet (quoted), 7, 236 

Rubini, 310 

Rue du Mont Blanc, The Reca- 
miers' house in the, 13, 15, 16, 
24, 47, 74, 294, 327, 329 

SABRAN, Comte de, 80, 87, 89 
St. Augustine and Monica, Ary 

Scheffer's picture of, 317 
Sainte-Beuve, 187, 294 

(quoted), 32, 33, 79, 149, 

156, 157,295, 296, 311, 329 
Saint-Priest, Comte de, 326 
St. Simon (quoted), 10 
Salvage de Faverolles, Madame, 

222, 246, 249, 252, 274, 291, 


Sapey, 21, 23 
Savary, 65 

Scheffer, Ary, 294 note, 317 
Schlegel, A. W. von, 80, 88 
Schlegels, The, 168 
Segur, 269 
Selwyn, George, 8 
SeVigne, Madame de, 150 

Sieyes, 20 

Simonard, 4, 104, 184, 187, 264 

Sirejean, 194-196, 199 

Sismondi, 80, 168 

Stael, Albertine de : see Broglie, 
Duchesse de, 

Stael, Auguste de, 104, no, 140, 

Stael, Madame de 

beginning of her friendship 
with Madame Recamier, 13- 
I 5 ; her influence over Mathieu 
de Montmorency, 26 ; her duel 
with Napoleon, 53-55 ; is ban- 
ished from Paris, 55 ; her 
opinion of the Court of the 
First Empire, 64 ; her letter to 
Madame Recamier after the 
failure of Jacques Recamier's 
bank, 75-77 ; her home at 
Coppet, 79, 80 ; encourages 
Prince Augustus of Prussia in 
his love affair with Madame 
Recamier, 8 1 ; the prince's 
letter to her, 84 ; her fondness 
for amateur theatricals, 87, 88 ; 
her house-party at Fosse, 89, 
90 ; her visit to the theatre at 
Blois, 90 ; publication and sup- 
pression of her work, De U Alle- 
magne^ 90 ; her banishment 
from France, 91 ; her letter to 
Madame Recamier, 91, 92 ; 
her persecution by the French 
Government, 100 ; her second 
marriage, 109 ; her flight from 
Coppet, no ; returns to Paris 
after the fall of Napoleon, 131; 
her enthusiasm for the Duke of 
Wellington, 135 ; wishes Ma- 
dame Recamier " to obtain in- 
fluence over the Duke," 136; 
leaves for Switzerland on hear- 
ing of Napoleon's escape from 
Elba, 151 ; her spirited reply 
to Napoleon's overtures, 155 ; 
her return to Paris, 167 ; popu. 



Stael, Madame de continued 

larity of her salon, 168 ; her 
illness and death, 169 ; her 
grave at Coppet, 281, 282 

Stilling, Heinrich Jung, 158 

Strasburg, Louis Napoleon's attempt 
at, 290 

Swetchine, Madame, 231, 232 

TALLEYRAND, 12, 65, 124, 135, 

160, 168, 208 
Talma, 71, 112, 113, 186 
Tastu, Madame de, 294 
Tenerani, 232 
Terror, Reign of, 7, 8, 9, 276, 


Terrorists, The, 8, 25, 66 
Theatre Fran9ais, 4, 36, 37, 71, 

276, 301, 304 
Thierry, 272 
Thorwaldsen, 214, 251 
Ticknor, George (quoted), 216, 

Tocqueville, Alexis de, Preface, 

187, 294, 319 

(quoted), 322 
Tolentino, Battle of, 152 
Torlonia, 1 1 6, 117, 218 
Trotter, John Bernard, 42 
(quoted) 44 

Tuileries, The, 45, 225 

Valerie, 156, 157, 161, 162, 176 
Verona, Congress of, 199, 200, 

201, 202-206, 21 1 
Victoria, Queen, 191 note 
Vienna, Congress of, 151 
Villele, 192, 200, 201, 204, 205, 

206, 208, 223, 224, 225, 226, 

229, 239, 241, 256 
Villemain, 261, 262 
Vintimille, Madame de, 185 
Vous me quittez pour marcher a la 

gloire, 277, 278 

WALPOLE, Horace (quoted), 44 

Waterloo, Battle of, 136, 137, 167, 

Wellington, Duke of 

meets Madame Recamier at 
Madame de Stael's house in 
1814, 135 ; Madame Reca- 
mier's account of her acquain- 
tance with him, 135, 136 ; his 
"unmeaning notes which all 
resemble one another," 1 36 and 
note ; " Je tai bien battu" 137 

Wharton, Grace and Philip (quo- 
ted), 1 80, 181 

Wiirtemberg, Prince of, 47. 


Tayistoek Street* London 

DC Williams, Hugh Noel 

Madame Recamier 
R3W7 c New and rev. ed. 3